STREAM: Paul McCartney - "New"
The key facet of the new disc which immediately jumps out of the speakers is that McCartney seems revitalized and the songs have a new sense of urgency. There is also a nod to Macca’s past as many songs contain multi-layered loops and effects which bring to mind the effects on The Beatles’ Revolver and/or early Pink Floyd albums. McCartney embraces a variety of styles across this disc and the strongest tracks are the rockers (which were also the first singles from the disc). Producer Paul Epworth gives the disc opener “Save Us” and “Queenie Eye” a post-punk edge that more than justifies anyone who questioned Macca’s work with the surviving members of Nirvana. The final Epworth track, “Road”, has a completely different sound as this is full-sounding, hazy number that bears more than a passing resemblance to the ‘urban cool’ of the early 90’s trip-hop bands.
Producer Mark Ronson produced the tracks that sound the most like classic McCartney – “New” and “Alligator”. “New” sounds somewhat ‘Beatle-ish’ with its multi-tracked array of sounds, bouncy rhythms and big hooky vocals and this song proves Macca still has the chops to turn out those perfect AM Radio hits. “Alligator” is a uptempo rocker which combines some great bluesy guitar lines with harpsichord and other instrumentation over which Paul expresses his need for “someone who can save me”.
McCartney seems to lose steam on some of the slower numbers, two of which were produced by Ethan Johns. While “Early Days” seems to be about Paul and John’s pre-Beatles friendship, it seems to be a schmaltzy walk through a bygone era and the only reason that the song doesn’t go completely off the rails is the painful and raw emotion in Paul’s falsetto vocals. “Hosanna” is measurably more interesting and, outside of the song’s hazy veneer, this tale of romantic brittleness is very similar to songs on almost all of Paul’s previous albums.
The remainder of the disc was produced by Beatles’ producer George Martin’s son Giles. Some of the more interesting of these tracks include “On My Way to Work”, a commuter’s tale of the daily grind of riding the bus to work but waiting/hoping for dreams to come true and this number sounds like it could have come out of The Beatles’ back catalog. “Appreciate” is a dance club number with an industrial beat which is the most adventurous that I’ve heard Macca in years. The disc ends with the hidden track “Scared”, which is a stripped-down piano ballad where Paul seems to be afraid of telling his new love how much she means to him: “Afraid to let you see/ That the simplest of words won’t come out of my mouth, though I’m dying to set them free/ Trying to let you see/ How much you mean to me.”