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We Are Only What We Feel
For his first album with the Heartbreakers in eight years, Tom Petty has molded his supremely talented band into a no-frills blues rock outfit. Largely recorded live, with the band playing together in the same room and with minimal overdubs, Mojo works at first, largely due to the caliber of musicians involved. Make no mistake about it: The Heartbreakers have always been one of the finest live rock 'n roll bands, and they prove it yet again here. Petty still sounds great, and it's refreshing to hear the typically restrained Mike Campbell finally let loose with some truly killer guitar heroics.
Yet despite those pleasantries, there's no getting around the fact that the fifteen songs here are largely devoid of the pop hooks and lyrical emotion that Petty normally pulls off so naturally. It's understandable that Petty and his band want to flex their bluesy muscles (and commendable that they're still freshening themselves up after well over 30 years together), but the songs themselves - no matter how well they are executed - simply aren't memorable enough to entice repeated listens. Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers have usually done things their own way, playing for themselves first and foremost. They certainly do that here, and while Mojo should at least keep them relevant in today's record industry, it might not click with much of their audience.