Simplicity is something I've always associated with Sacramento's Tesla, a band who resisted the lipstick and hairspray so prevalent in the Hard Rock world when they debuted back in 1986 with the simply marvellous Mechanical Resonance. Solid riffs, no frills singing, straight up beats and hard work (and no little skill and talent, mind) have always been the order of the day for this band; the results varying from strong - The Great Radio Controversy, Bust A Nut or previous album Forever More, to sublime – the aforementioned debut, Psychotic Supper or, I'm delighted to say, Simplicity.
At the time of its release, 2008, Forever More was well received, yet the passing of a few years finds it to be one of the less substantial offerings from this band and while far from bad, Simplicity simply knocks it for six. A more organic approach and a sizzling set of songs sees to that, as does a soothing vocal from Jeff Keith that still somehow sounds like it should strip his throat as he delivers it. While the relaxed yet urgent twin guitar attack from Frank Hannon and Dave Rude sure as hell doesn't hurt either.
Opening track "mp3" bursts the doors in with a riff almost Sabbath like in size, yet still Tesla enough to be unmistakable. It's a statement of where the world is, how misguided technology has made many of our day to day "priorities" and it's hard to argue with the sentiments. From there the standards simply don't drop, whether through the mid paced stomp of "Sympathy" or more feisty staccato explosion of "Time Bomb", the energetic smack and throb of "Flip Side" and "Ricochet", or the slow beautiful "Honestly" and "Til That Day". The latter being one of the best of these types of tracks this band has created, which is saying something. Drummer Troy Lucketta remains the hidden strength of Tesla, nailing everything to the floor, his cymbal excursions adding colour and flair, while the manner in which he and bassist Brian Wheat lock together is a huge lesson for any other Rock act desperate to sound as joyously "loose" as Tesla do.
Recent times have seen many bands pairing down their albums to a more vinyl era length of ten or twelve tracks, so it's also to the credit of Simplicity that the fourteen songs here never bore, or lose focus, the overall feeling being that rather than outstaying its welcome, this album is over all too quickly. But then that's what the repeat button is for!
Simplicity is an ethos we should maybe all take on-board. If the results are half as good as what Tesla have created here, we are all sure to benefit!
3. Rise and Fall
4. So Divine...
5. Cross My Heart
7. Flip Side!
8. Other Than Me
9. Break of Dawn
10. Burnout to Fade
11. Life Is a River
13. Time Bomb
14. 'Til That Day
Added: June 23rd 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Tesla online
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