Album Reviews: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | MOJO | [Reprise]
Review by Jill Cowan
The Daily Californian — Thursday, June 17, 2010
In a lot of ways, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers represent what’s great about American rock ‘n’ roll. It’s hard to pin down how, exactly, the band so timelessly evokes that “driving into the horizon” feeling, but Petty’s unmistakable strumming and lyrics that are at once jaded and nostalgic are good places to start.
Unfortunately, their new album, Mojo, is missing some of whatever it is that makes the Heartbreakers’ music the ultimate retort to anyone who hates on basic guitar-driven rock. No, I wouldn’t go so far to say the ageless-sounding Petty has lost his mojo but the work is definitely hit-or-miss.
At points, Petty and co. try to mix things up with some bluesy accents and the result is, well, snoozeville, for lack of a better word. While almost all of the tracks are certainly listenable and by no stretch offensively bad, at least one by the name of “Candy”is a boring honky-tonk ditty that — trust me — you’ll want to skip. And the jury’s still out regarding a pseudo-reggae/rock fusion number called “Don’t Pull Me Over.” It’s not as bad as you’d think, but it’s no “Free Fallin’.”
On the other hand, though, a few of the songs are good. Like, good in the way that will make you want to listen to them on repeat while rolling down a dark, lonely highway along the coast.
“The Trip to Pirate’s Cove” may sound like a Disneyland ride knock-off, but the slow road ballad is truly sincere. And whereas some of the other bright spots on the album are dogged by lackluster lyrics (See: “Something Good Coming”), “Pirate’s Cove” is a verbal tour of California featuring some world-weary singers like, “She was a part of my heart/now she’s just a line in my face.” Ah, that’s more like it.