And, for what it's worth, this is MY take on the album...
NEW (**** 1/2 stars, or an “A”)
Favorite trax: “Early Days,” “Appreciate,” “Queenie Eye,” “Turned Out. “
If anyone hasn’t heard the album yet, and played those songs consecutively, you’d get an idea of how eclectic this album is. (And one of them is a bonus track!)
Most of the album has an "everything including the kitchen sink" kind of feel; varied sounds (wich makes sense, since four producers worked with Paul), yet it all seems to fit together. Overall production is open ended and adventurous, and full of life, as opposed to, say, the very compressed, overly polished, synthesized, programmed sound of something like FLOWERS IN THE DIRT. Not to pick on that album specifically, but only to make comparisons, for most of FITD (and, for the record, I love “Put It There,” “Figure Of Eight,” and “That Day Is Done”), the tracks sound dead on arrival. The songs on NEW, on the other hand, are bursting with sounds and layers and energy that beg for and reward repeated listens (some moreso than others).
What Paul tried to do on McCARTNEY II and PRESS TO PLAY comes to a satisfying fruition to these ears here. Adjectives that come to mind-- catchy, experimental, nostalgic, current, energetic, varied.
The lyrics are better, overall, than much of his solo work, but then, Paul’s lyrics HAVE been better, overall, since FLAMING PIE. As he ages, as with (hopefully) many of us, he’s become wiser and more reflective.
HOWEVER. . . Anyone judging a McCARTNEY album basesd on lyrics misses the boat completely. An artist like Dylan paints his masterpieces with words. Macca paints with sound. Lyrics are, for the most part, secondary to Paul. Always have been. A good lyric on a song is a bonus. I haven’t “analyzed” all the words to the songs here, but overall, they seem fine. Some are pretty good, in fact.
So, here goes. Although part of me doesn't want to do this, will give each song a letter rating.
(1) SAVE US- appealing, tight, polished sounding rocker. Logical opening track, of the 15. Pleasant enough, but compared to the rest of the album, is almost generic sounding. Again, it's not that I don't think it's good, it's just that I don't think it's memorable. Most of the rest of the tracks here are. (RATING: B)
(2) ALLIGATOR- catchy, bouncy pop/rock, with interesting production, clever lyrics, and the first track of several that changes pace during the song. This one has a soft, falsetto bridge that connects the song, and it pops up twice. (RATING: A-)
(3) ON MY WAY TO WORK- my first thought was, "Just Another Day" from a male perspective. Interesting narrative, and a nice melody. Plods a bit, like "Magic" from DRIVING RAIN, but it's just hitting me that the percussion is done in a way that makes me think of an assembly line, which would lend itself to the song's title. Just an average guy going to his hum drum everyday job, day dreaming on the way. Seems like most critics like this song. It's an interesting track, but it isn't one that I would hit the REPEAT button on very often. (RATING: B)
(4) QUEENIE EYE- driving, psychedelia-laced power pop. Love the lyrics, among which is the line: "never pick a fight you're going to lose." Fun to try and figure out if he's singing about Wife #2, Heather, or if he's just talking about life in general. Perhaps both. Has an "Alligator"-like, falsetto bridge that connects the first half of the song with the second half. If the Beatles of 1967 were recording today, they might have come up with something that sounds like this track. (RATING: A+)
(5) EARLY DAYS- masterpiece. I have a soft spot for Paul's acoustic side, and this is one of his all time best. Fragile, vulnerable vocal. Beautifully arranged. GREAT lyrics. Sort of an update of "Here Today," but with more of Paul's take on things. (RATING: A+)
(6) NEW- the track we've all heard the most of, obviously. I went thru a brief "overplayed" period with this, but now, in the context of the rest of the album, I'm warming up to it again. Nice, upbeat, Revolver era pop. Echoes of "Good Day Sunshine/Got to Get You Into My Life/Penny Lane" with a dash of Beach Boys thrown in. Pity Paul's high register is so wobbly and thin now (which serves him well in "Early Days," but not so much here). Would have LOVED to have heard him sing this with his vocal chops of 15-20 years ago. Having said that, it's still a catchy tune. (RATING: B+)
(7) APPRECIATE- brilliant. Reading some of the somewhat negative takes on this song, I had expected to NOT like it. But, it grabbed me immediately, and I like it more with each listen. Hypnotic beat. Psychedelic r & b. Here, the changes (unlike in "Alligator and "Queenie Eye") have Paul reversing from falsetto with lighter instrumentation to lower register and a heavier sound. Works for me, and my love for this track is sealed by the great slide-like guitar playing that closes the track. (RATING: A+)
(8) EVERYBODY OUT THERE- like "Save Us," better than the live versions we heard prior to this release. Very catchy singalong, poppy anthem, with a lyric that tries to be something akin to "Give Peace A Chance" or "C'mon People," or "Freedom." Better than the latter two. Hopeful, not preachy. The only thing I don't like is the bizarre ending, which sounds like Paul is screaming out to outer space, trying to connect with other worlds...and there's kind of a cheesy science fiction-like sound effect thing going on at the very end. It kind of takes a little bit away from the song, IMHO. (RATING: B)
(9) HOSANNA- one of two tracks that I couldn't warm up to when I first heard the album (the other being "Road."). I still can't. Spacey, floating, surreal acoustic arrangement, but a bit too exotic sounding for me. The pre-release buzz (from months ago, actually) was this was a highlight of the album. To me, and I'll probably be in the minority, it's another one I wouldn't hit the REPEAT button on. Maybe, from the initial hype, I was expecting too much? (RATING: C-)
(10) I CAN BET- One of the reasons I like Paul is because he's a master of creating, when he wants to, straight, catchy pop rock. This fits that mold perfectly, and is pure ear candy. I could see this as some great lost track from a 1970's WINGS album. And I love the spacey fade on it (not unlike "Sweet, Sweet Memories"). (RATING: A)
(11) LOOKING AT HER- Had this song been on CHAOS or even MAF, it would have been pleasant, but nothing memorable. However, the production and arrangement of this song makes what would be another nice Macca pop love song transform into a really terrific track. Love the way the song goes from light falsetto pop to a much heavier sound at the end of the chorus. I don't know whose idea it was, but it works brilliantly! (RATING: A)
(12) ROAD- like "Hosanna," I was initially turned off by this song. It sounded aimless and meandering on a first listen. Repeated listens, however, are revealing layers and sounds that I wasn't picking up on at first. It's quickly becoming a song I'm going back to. Has a touch of '80's style to it on the chorus, or bridge, or whatever you want to call the change it goes through, and comes back to. Very unlike anything Paul has done pre-ELECTRIC ARGUMENTS. I know he got experimental on MCCARTNEY II and PRESS TO PLAY, but there's nothing on those albums that really hint at this (the only thing off the top of my head might be "Secret Friend"). Nice ending to the "official" album...but if you have the DELUXE version, there's more. (RATING: B+)
(13) TURNED OUT- see "I Can Bet." This one, though, is even BETTER. And, it's not even on the official album! I find that truly amazing. Even if he didn't want to put two songs on it that sounded similar, I'd have picked this over I CAN BET. It's a GREAT, catchy pop rocker, with a really nice, pace changing piano segment. Shades of "Sweet, Sweet Memories" on this one, too.
(14) GET ME OUT OF HERE- Shades of early Paul, ala MCCARTNEY/RAM era. Interesting percussion sound that makes me think of "Dance Tonight" and even "Give Peace A Chance." Nice, tongue-in-cheek lyric (Paul, I don't really feel too bad about the tax man knocking on your door!). A throwaway, bonus track kind of thing, but, very enjoyable and fun, and one that, unlike "Hosanna," for example, I WILL hit the repeat button for! (RATING: B+)
(15) SCARED- the hidden/uncredited track. A fairly naked, just Paul and the piano ballad, but with touches of production and organ (funeral-like, actually) creeping in by the end. Very emotionally raw lyric. Almost the flip, darker side (musically) to "Warm And Beautiful." It's not exactly "For No One" melodically, kind of a bland tune. And, although they have nothing, really, in common musically, my thoughts immediately went to John's final track on JL/POB, "My Mummy's Dead." Some nice, soul-searching lyrics here. A love song, but not a silly one. (RATING: C+)
And, as of several listens, a day after release, this is my take on NEW. I think it is a terrific album. Kind of picking up where ELECTRIC ARGUMENTS left off, but, in a somewhat more traditional pop format. It's really just Paul being Paul. And this is really good Paul.
Of course, in two weeks, I’ll probably want to rewrite this review.
In two years, rewrite it again.
In twenty-- should I live that long-- yet again.
(I don't like ranking albums, but if I had to, this is right up there with FLAMING PIE, TUG OF WAR, CHAOS, MEMORY, and RAM...and, even though it's mostly covers, RUN DEVIL RUN.)
Last edited by Mattal1958
on Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:14 am, edited 3 times in total.
in years to come/they may discover/what the air we breathe and the life we lead are all about/but it won't be soon enough for me