Tesla - Simplicity

Tesla Simplicity cover
Frontiers Records
I’ve always loved Tesla, because they really had a down to earth feel and an edge about them that really translated well and on top of that they also had some pretty cool songs to match their spirited performances either live or on record.
“Simplicity” is their newest effort and maybe it’s a bit too “simple” and a little too ploddy in reality with the band really more hanging out and about that rocking it straight out, but in all their years of cranking out, quality material… well, they’ve earned the right to follow their hearts. After all, the call of a true artist is to follow their “vision” and not bow down to commercial pressure or to what the fans necessarily might want... (obviously – it’s important to do care about what your fandom has to say about your albums)
While “Simplicity” isn’t exactly too different maybe it suffers a bit from a few “stinkers” here and there and a bit of a lack of variation in tempo as it lacks the faster numbers… that would really push it a step up.
“MP3” that opens the album is a rather weird little mid-tempo, number, driven by a heavy riff and laments both the death of the music industry but also the whole “stupidity” of indulging yourself in too much information, that you simply don’t have time to process anymore… no time to appreciate properly. What’s the point of having “all the music” in your mobile if you’re not going to listen to it? Or if it’s going to sound like shit? There’s certain a point there… that’s where the whole “simplicity” concept, stem forth, from. It also features a brilliant solo, for an MP3 :P hihi!
“Ricochet” that comes second, opens similarly, but rips the covers almost instantly to reveal, an out and out rocker all about tearing it out onstage, every night. The band embraces their fans and the life style as Jeff Keith sings his guts out: “So here we are, we’re back again, with a brand new record and ready to spin”. By keeping it basic and simple, Tesla, manage to sound like the band they are on stage, a blue collar, no frills, rock n roll band! Turn it up loud and let this fire bomb, of a song, explode in your living room!
“Rise and Fall” is a slow and rather introspective song, that sounds almost half bitter and kinda like the diary of a loner passing hard times…
“So Divine” is one of the better songs on “Simplicity” it begins acoustically and sort of continues so, but during the chorus it sort of becomes much more emotional and much more powerful and charged and electric… it’s all about departing this mortal coil, but living behind you a legacy that will live on.
Great stuff.
“Cross My Heart” loosens up the tension by being this honky tonk bar, sort of number, that has whiffs of blues and roots music and it’s alight I guess... but not essential...
“Honestly” is another acoustic number, a more pure ballad, this time with hardly a big rock break... just a bit of a rockier section prior to the single word chorus. In a way, it almost sounds a bit like a more melodic “Tom Petty” number... even down to how Jeff Keith sounds. Nice!
Initially I thought “Flip Side!” had taken it a bit too far with slow numbers, since it begins very slow, and goes like that for a bit, but then breaks into a heavier, meatier section after that... it’s interesting, but well this time I’ll probably moan that it’s too simple… and sounds a bit like more of a ropey number with half a good idea, that the band was too bored to develop further… a bit of a filler then?! Maybe...
“Other Than Me” is a nice melodic number with meaningful and bitter lyrics about girlfriends that are always preferring the “wrong” guy… and not the “hero” of the song, so expect a lot of people to connect with this one…
“Break of Dawn” begins with the sort of right biting riff and metallic sound, in the most promising way for it to be a nice rocker and while it doesn’t exactly disappoint the band has written much better rockers through the years, the melodic break at the third minute and the ensuing solos are probably the best thing going on for the song… mysteriously, when the band resumes, it sounds a bit better… I just think, they tried to make it too heavy, without being able to sustain it and there could have also been an extra “release” phrase right after “Until the Break of Dawn” at the end of the choruses, before it goes “Oh, All Night” or whatever…
“Burnout to Fade” is another acoustic ballad, with some really nice guitars, and it really grew on me… even if it’s so bittersweet.
“Life is a River” probably takes it a bit too far with acoustic numbers… well semi acoustic anyway, but I guess, Tesla always had a thing for Unplugged shit, remember how many – unplugged and acoustic live albums they have?! “Life is a River” (not only in the morning, may I add) – so let it flow... doesn’t manage to convince, until the chorus hits home, but from then on, it’s easy work and as soon as the solo lands it’s twice the bliss…
“Sympathy” is heavier, but it’s modern, compared to what’s on offer elsewhere on this album, showing that the band could easily, adapt its riffs and style, significantly, sounding like a whimpy downtuned entity... with the only exception that the simple mock thing that develops into a proper solo, in something that I doubt a nu-er band would easily come up with…
“Time Bomb” sort of keeps the sound, but not necessarily the overall style, as sounds like a modernized version of themselves here, which I guess, serves them best, in a bit of patriotic, but also ponderous song, about having to stand together united for the greater good, of one’s country but also the world.
Finally, “Till that Day” is a beautiful ballad, probably the finest one on the album, complete with slide guitars etc… and some fine, fine singing by Keith, a song that I couldn't think any other band delivering other than maybe Tesla or Aerosmith (of old.... but that band kida died many moons ago...)
There are also two demo versions of “Burnout to Fade” (writing demo version) & “Honestly” (writing demo version) offered as bonus tracks, obviously, work in progress versions with a lot of flaws in them, breaths, green stuff, alternative stuff and the mix not being perfect, but it shows you how the songs came to be and they are an interesting look “under the hood”.
“Simplicity” is honest. It’s maybe not the band’s best work and not able to antagonize their Geffen output but there are definitely some very nice songs on it. It suffers a bit from being a little too slow, but if that was the vision of the band, oh what the hell... at least, you know what? It doesn’t suck, slow or fast, it’s good songs… although, if they had a few more up-tempo numbers and dropped a couple of ballads I think it would have been to the albums benefit. The fans have already spoken, sending “Simplicity” to the charts in America, while it must have also done quite decently in Europe as well were the band recently (last month) did a handful of festival appearances... oh well if you’re a fan, you don’t need me urging you to get it and if you aren’t, you’re probably not going to bother anyway, cause it’s “not your thing” so…