After more than a handful of sketchy ‘old age’ sounding albums, aside from 2008′s glorious ‘Electric Arguments’ which saw Paul McCartney in top form, he now speeds his music up to modern day.
‘New’ represents the type of music that a 71 year old legend should be making at this point in his career. Fresh sounds and lyrics, along with a formidable set of four producers that at times makes you think, “Someone finally got it right.”
If the goal for titling the album “New” was to showcase a modern sounding McCartney, free of a ‘classic rock’ mentality and now able to hang with some of the more current mainstream acts, then it is a strong success. I remember in 1997 being overly disappointed in Jeff Lynne’s production of McCartney’s album, ‘Flaming Pie’, as it showed a weary, aging side of one of the Fab 4 in a way that we’re not quite ready to see him in yet.
Here we are 16 years later with an exceptional production team and backing musicians. Paul is feeling 25 again with the kind of release that restarts a career, similar to the critical reaction when his landmark ‘Band on the Run’ album was released.
Upon the initial full length listen of this album, my first thought was that it should’ve followed ‘Abbey Road’ or ‘Band on the Run’ in his catalog. I’ve always liked McCartney’s albums, especially the ones under his other name, ‘The Fireman,’ to which he’s released three CD’s and includes some of his most creative and ambitious recordings.
On each album since the Beatles’ farewell, McCartney seems to be searching for a definitive sound for himself. Weather it’s synth-pop on McCartney 2, or nostalgia on the more recent ‘Kisses on the Bottom,’ and even abstract inventive ambient music on ‘Liverpool Sound Collage,’ I have sat by from album to album as he continued searching for a new defining sound. Now in 2013, we finally have it!
The album starts out strong with ‘Save Us,’ a song that could easily fit on ‘Band on the Run’. It’s as if Linda McCartney and Denny Laine returned briefly to aid him in recording it. A flawless time-warp to the early 70′s Wings’ albums, with a sharp polish of 2013. Another interesting element is that this is a ‘headphones album’; As far as production and spacing of the sounds and instruments goes, ‘New’ is masterfully produced and engineered for your listening.
“Alligator” and “On My Way to Work” helps transition into one of the album’s brightest highlights and it’s appropriately chosen 2nd single, ‘Queenie Eye,’ which again speeds Paul into a 2013 Beatles territory. I would love to call Ringo Starr and be the one to ask him to return to the drums and brand this a new Beatles song, as it is as close to what we would accept as a Beatles track in this era.
We transition from the classic Beatles sound of old to another centerpiece of the album, “Appreciate”, which in my opinion is the strongest song off the new album. It is one of the most flawless songs McCartney has ever put to CD. Following the first listen, “I Can Bet” was rewound and replayed many, many times. This is classic Paul McCartney for the modern day rock fan, almost as those this was the greatest song ever written during McCartney’s Wings’ days that was left sitting on a shelf all these years, only to just now face the light of day.
This album answers two amazing questions: “What would the Beatles sound like in 2013?”, and “What would happen if Wings had never disbanded?” The answer to both questions is right before you with McCartney’s new album, ‘New.’ The absence of Ringo Starr on these nostalgic tracks is an unfortunate one, as his presence is just about the only thing which could enhance this new studio outing. Perhaps in the future, we can once again have the two remaining Beatles collaborate together for an entire album, but until that day comes at least we have one standout record from the one and only Paul McCartney.