September 22, 2014 Tesla – Simplicity (Album Review)
Tesla have been around now since 1982, a long time in Rock n’ Roll years, when fifteen year old guitarist and keyboard player Frank Hannon and twenty year old Brian Wheat started the band. The band split briefly in 1996, but re-formed again in 2000. While Jeff Keith has held the role of lead vocalist since the start and Troy Luccketta has remained in the drum stool, guitarist Dave Rude is fairly new to the band, joining in 2006. This is their 10th studio offering. They have had some highs and lows in their career, with the burning down of their studio in 2010 being one of the lowest points. A 1980s hair metal band, they never made the jump to being a huge name, but have a strong and loyal following who will love this new offering, titled Simplicity.
It would be easy to list this as yet another 1980s band stuck in a time warp, re-living the past. Listen again though, and you will realize that there is something more here. For a start, it’s damn catchy. They have managed to create an album that still captures their memorable ’80s style, while also taking it somewhere new and exciting.
“MP3″ kick starts the album, lamenting on how technology has taken over our lives. While lyrically, it is grumpy old man-ish, but sound wise, it is young and vibrant. Jeff Keith’s vocal style takes some getting used to, but it works, and after a few listens, his voice infects the listener. “Ricochet” is fast and exuberant, but the slow break in the middle is a welcome chance to take a breath. Strange and haunting, “Rise and Fall” is a darker song with a delicious guitar break. “So Divine” is a song about loss, passionate and heartrending. Very The Quireboys in style, “Cross My Heart” is a barroom, honky-tonk party. A fun tune, honest and light, this one is basically about remaining faithful while on tour. “Honestly” is gentler and sadder, despairing almost of the world. It contrasts well with the lighter tone of “Flip Side”. A look at the ‘dualities in life’, this song is a riot, with an addictive, high energy. A song of unrequited love, “Other Than Me” brings you back down, an emotional song about being stuck in the “friendzone”. Fierce and frenzied, “Break of Dawn” thunders in with a strong drum beat and a teenage attitude. With its bittersweet message, “Burnout to Fade” has more delicate refrains and a bluesy country feel, although it still really rocks in the chorus, on its way to becoming a timeless classic. “Life is a River” comes from a more adult viewpoint, soulful and melodic. The bass hooks you into “Sympathy” with a heavier, meatier sound, followed by “Time Bomb” which continues in the same vein. A rebellious chant, the bass is sublime and drives the track. Semi-acoustic, “‘ Till that Day? closes the album. As the song plays, we can imagine lighters in the air, the crowd swaying side to side and grinning from ear to ear until the last chord is strummed.
Fourteen tracks are good value for the money, and there is a great variety of music within them. This is a solid album from a band that may have been overlooked unfairly. Give Simplicity a few listens and approach it with an open mind because there is fun to be had here. The skills of the musicians and song writing carry this album beyond its 1980s feel so take a journey, it is well worth the ride. CrypticRock gives Tesla’s Simplicity album 4 out of 5 stars.