Another glowing 5/5 rewiew from Daily Telegraphnhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/
So this is the first fiver then
calling his 16th solo album New, Paul McCartney is celebrating his fresh attitude rather than a change of musical direction. Though they’re produced by men young enough to be his sons, these 12 songs are vintage Macca: jaunty, melodic and occasionally whimsical with underlying twists of lyrical anger. His 2011 marriage to Nancy Shevell has clearly re-energised him.
Whereas his last collection of original songs, 2007’s Memory Almost Full (released shortly before his acrimonious divorce from Heather Mills) saw him in reflective mood, and 2012’s standards album Kisses on the Bottom saw him romancing his new love with the songs of his childhood, this record finds him firing off peppy electric riffs and looking to the future, teasing his audience with lines like: “What I’m gonna do next I’ll leave entirely to your imagination…”
The four producers who contributed to New are Mark Ronson (who collaborated most famously with Amy Winehouse), Paul Epworth (Adele), Ethan Johns (Laura Marling, Kings of Leon) and the son of “fifth Beatle” George Martin, Giles. They all bring their own styles to McCartney’s unmistakable sound.
The bombastically poppy and retro-leaning Ronson (who was DJ at McCartney and Shevell’s wedding) helms two songs, adding his trademark swaggering horn section to first single New. Like a jolly thumbs up from the past, it sounds like a remade Beatles track, with harpsichord flourishes, stomping 4/4 beat, cute melody and a breezy falsetto chorus of “ooo”s. McCartney fans are going to love it: it’s all so tidily resolved. Detractors will hate it for the same reason: it’s too tidily resolved. Ronson adds a grittier tone to the raunchier second number which sees McCartney in search of “a sweet communicator I can give my alligator to”.
Epworth does sterling service on the angry fairground ride that is Queenie Eye. There are echoes of I am the Walrus in the song’s driven stamp and paisley drum rolls, while you wonder whether McCartney’s lyrics about someone who’s been making up stories and “putting it about” are a reference to Mills. Given the financial wrangling in their divorce it’s not hard to imagine he’s thinking of her when he shouts: “I haven’t got it/ It isn’t in my pocket!”
Martin gives a trip-hop twist to Appreciate which finds McCartney conjuring up the free-floating mood of The Fool on the Hill but given a darker, urban edge. It’s like hearing a vinyl record played backwards on an iPhone. By contrast, the chugging familiarity of I Can Bet is pure Wings.
Ethan Johns is more interested in stripping the old rocker back to basics. His croaky and wandering vocal is left movingly exposed and vulnerable on Early Days, as he remembers being one of two guys wandering the streets dressed in black, guitars on their backs. It’s a memory we all want to hear about, so it’s strange that a brittle McCartney should then sing that “they can’t take it from me, if they tried/ I lived through those early days”. Surely nobody would deny that his durable style was once gloriously new? He needn’t be so defensive, or so concerned about detractors – this album proves his talent is timeless