6/27/2014 - Review by: Eric Compton
I advised a lot of people how great this new Tesla album was going to be. I advised that same lot of people how disappointed I was after spending the first week with it. For decades this California band have released an appreciable amount of adroitly played hard rock regardless of trends or fashion. While some bands were gingerly passing around hairspray, Jeff Keith and the boys were passing pens and instruments. Respectfully, albums like "Mechanical Resonance" and "The Great Radio Controversy" have passed through the ages as more relevant and timeless than the "Pyromania" and "Out of the Cellar" ilk of the world. With the last two Tesla endeavors, "Into the Now" (2004) and "Forever More" (2008), the band regaled fans and critics alike by simply staying true to their roots and perfecting great songs.
So how do I, as a sincere fan, dismiss this Tesla entry as submissive? What right do I have to cast doubt and upbraid a band nearly thirty years removed from their debut? It's simple; I know they can do better than this.
"Simplicity" is the conceptual theme for the band to preach their concerns for our fast paced, technology driven society. On effective opener "MP3", Keith warns us of an anonymous society that utilizes smart phones and digital media as communication. It's this opening statement, paired with the album's title that conveys the band's rearward progress. "Simplicity" is an attempt that retroactively journeys to 60s and 70s rock more so than the electric intensity this band is known for.
While "Time Bomb", "Break of Dawn" and "Ricochet" are auriferous sections of the record, three stout numbers that stanch the subdued nature of the overall album, a majority of the record is ballads. While historic tracks like "Love Song" are as important to the band's legacy as Frank Hannon, I wasn't ready or prepared for a half dozen of them. Even southern rock styled "Cross My Heart", with accompanying "saloon" piano, is just dreadfully slow. Same can be said for the bluesy Aerosmith-like "Flip Side!" and its lack of spark or the piano led "Life Is a River". These are just lifeless songs that refuse to showcase a brilliant and electric band doing what they are so good at.
With a discography as strong as Tesla's, this album will still find its way to the light again. Much like their previous work I can always find bits and pieces of albums that I will play here and there ("Mighty Mouse", "Shine Away") more so than the more familiar songs ("Modern Day Cowboy", "Signs"). Tesla are bodacious. They are unmistakable. They are the emissaries for those blue collar rockers that are playing a bar in your town tonight. Yet, like many well established veterans, they just made a bad record. It's happened to Van Halen, Dokken, L.A. Guns and now it's happened to Tesla.
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