I love TESLA. I always have. Even when their records haven’t been world-beaters you could always guarantee that the ensuing tour would be badass, because these guys have consistently delivered the goods live since the first time I saw them in 1987. In fact, next month will make the third time in four years I’ll be rockin’ out with the band, this time in support of newest album Simplicity. Quite frankly the title says it all. There are no studio tricks or overt effects or any of that nonsense. Just simple, honest rock n’ roll that sounds great when it works and not-so-great when it doesn’t. Before I go into any kind of depth I have to take my hat off to the guys for being ambitious enough to put 14 tracks on this album in a day and age where most consumers have the attention span of a gnat.
Opener “MP3” is a cleverly-worded tune imploring us to get back to the simple things in life and not be so caught up in/dependent on technology and it makes sense in a lot of ways. “Ricochet” calls to mind the best of early AEROSMITH, with a nod to TED NUGENT in the chorus. This is easily one of the best songs on the entire thing, as is “So Divine”. THIS is a classic example of what TESLA does best: combine the acoustics with the electrics and make with the rock songs other bands only WISH they could write. And if it’s a Southern piano-tinged boogie you’re after, then “Cross My Heart” is the song for you. The same holds true for “Flip Side” but it has more of a modern feel on the hook while the verses are done just with an acoustic and a slide.
On the softer side two songs really stood out for me, “Life is a River” and my absolute favorite “Till That Day”. The message to just live life and take it easy is there in both of them but the melody on “Till That Day” stopped me in my tracks. I think it’s one of the finest things this band has ever written and it had me savaging my REPEAT button. On the heavier front “Time Bomb” is one that I guarantee will be in this summer’s setlists, along with “Sympathy”, hopefully. “Burnout to Fade” has more of that traditional TESLA slower start before turning into a mid-tempo near-ballad. It’s a pretty little ditty with a sing-along hook.
On the not-so-good front I really couldn’t get into “Rise and Fall” and I have no idea WHAT the fuck is going on with singer Jeff Keith’s crazy vocal histrionics at the end of “Break of Dawn”. I wasn’t digging the song to begin with and that just made it ten times worse. But as I said before, there are 14 songs, so having a couple of clunkers is expected. Overall though this is a real solid TESLA record and I think these tunes will stand up nicely alongside the classics when the boys get out on stages across the U.S. this summer. Simplicity is out now via eOne Music/Tesla Electric Company Recordings. Grab your copy, buy a ticket, and enjoy the ride!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Ricochet”, “Till That Day”, “Life is a River”, “So Divine”, “MP3”, “Cross My Heart”