Albums Of The Week

McCartney still going strong with new album

Highly tuneful melodies are found in Paul McCartney's 18th solo album Egypt Station.
Highly tuneful melodies are found in Paul McCartney's 18th solo album Egypt Station.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ROCK/POP

EGYPT STATION

Paul McCartney

Capitol

4 stars

One of the last two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney, has spoken of his desire to retire from playing music in the coming years. So a new album of brand-new songs from one of rock and pop's most feted singers and songwriters is a big deal indeed.

Egypt Station, his 18th solo album and his first in five years, is a solid and vibrant piece of work.

It has all the hallmarks of the 76-year-old's famous work with the Fab Four and solos - highly tuneful melodies in both major and minor keys, songs that dabble in both simple pop structures and adventurous arrangements, all coupled with lyrics that celebrate love and the human condition.

He's got his pulse on the contemporary pop world too, employing hit-making producers Greg Kurstin and Ryan Tedder, who is also lead vocalist of pop rock band One Republic, to give the recordings a slightly modern twist.

His voice is still warm and creamy, yet he doesn't hide the little flaws. In the tender, acoustic track Confidante, for example, his voice cracks a little, but in rollicking tunes like Come On To Me, he belts out his signature "yeah yeah yeah" yells.

Highly tuneful melodies are found in Paul McCartney's 18th solo album Egypt Station.

In fact, the jaunty tunes outnumber the mellow tracks in the album.

Fuh You ("I just want it fuh you") is a wink-wink, raunchy, pop tune, with Tedder adding modern, One Republic-style shimmers in the massive chorus. The fun and kooky McCartney comes to the fore in songs like Back In Brazil, an electro-lounge Latin romp with Japanese chants (Ichiban!), and Caesar Rock, with its call-and-response chorus and back-masked guitars reminiscent of The Beatles' seminal 1966 album Revolver.

People Want Peace sounds like his contemporary answer to his late songwriting partner and fellow Beatle John Lennon's 1969 anti-war anthem Give Peace A Chance ("The message is simple, it's straight from my heart/And I know that you've heard it before").

Despite Repeated Warnings, a seven-minute multi-part epic, is even more political.

Through winding and shifting time signatures, he sings the tale of a stubborn captain running his ship aground, a thinly veiled jab at climate change deniers and narcissistic politicians.

Despite the callbacks to the past, the album also contains songs that see him planting his feet firmly in the present.

"We can start to begin, living in the world we're in/This is it, here and now/We can find our way," he ruminates in the bittersweet Dominoes.

The message is echoed in Do It Now, which gives an indication of what motivates him to keep putting out new music ("So do it now, do it now/While your vision is clear/Do it now/While the feeling is here").

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2018, with the headline 'Seductive downtempo pop McCartney still going strong with new album'. Print Edition | Subscribe