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Paul McCartney
New - HEAR MUSIC
FILTER Grade: 80%

By Zack Kraimer on November 19, 2013

 

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney has always seemed like an endless fount of ideas, and with his 16th studio album it’s clear that the songs are still flowing freely. New finds familiarly buoyant pop alongside synth-accented strummers, a few up-tempo arena-rousers and introspective acoustic numbers, and the playful variation between tracks does a lot to keep the record interesting.


Each track undeniably bears McCartney’s mark, even the ones that sound like nothing he’s attempted before. He sounds particularly youthful here, but despite his timeless songwriting sensibilities it’s not hard to tell that McCartney’s from another time. He has always been restless in his compositional style, and with four key producers he was able to create a patchwork tapestry of a record, with each tune staking out its own sonic space. The Mark Ronson–produced title track and “Alligator” are obvious standouts, calling back to his bounciest and harpsichord-heaviest Beatles melodies. Giles Martin, son of the “Fifth Beatle” George Martin, produced the Wings-flavored “I Can Bet” and the driving, melancholic “Everybody Out There,” while Ethan Johns (whose father, Glynn, worked on Let It Be) helmed the acoustic-leaning tracks. Instead of muddying the record, the array of producers was able to string together some far-flung ideas into a cohesive statement.


These melodies aren’t as complex as on some of McCartney’s past work, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fulfilling. The cascading, layered vocal harmonies aren’t so present here either, but even without them his style is immediately recognizable. New proves that he’s been listening all these years—he’s appropriated some new influences along with the foundations of his past work. He’s still having his kicks, and that in itself is fun to hear. Even if it’s not McCartney’s most engaging record outright, New is a breath of fresh air for what could’ve been a frustrating sigh. 

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