Paul McCartney’s first album in five years is eclectic, eccentric and has moments of classic weaved throughout. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
There’s a lot to be said for an artist who has nothing really to prove, but keeps proving it. Five years after his stellar previous solo outing, New, Egypt Station sees Macca having turned out a selection of new songs on an album which – on the surface – seems bereft of filler.
Egypt Station stands sort of like a concept album, but a more structured version of one, flowing with a general feel than any kind of narrative thread. It opens and closes with ambient noise bookends of the titular station, and in between is a long, contemplative and often trippy ride. But its contents vary significantly, from pastoral hymnals (Confidante) to a piano ballad (Do It Now). His oddly open confessional I Don’t Know shows the guy in mid-life crisis mode (he’s probably performing it in character, and since he’s 76 I’m guessing he’s waaaaay off mid-life crisis point by now), where Come On to Me, while the album’s rockin’ high water mark, is a tad silly, being that it’s a song about dating. And the guy’s pushing 80. There’s also a song on this thing called Fuh You; make of that what you will.
Then there’s the other classically McCartney moments, from Dominoes to Happy With You, which is on the sentimental side, while People Want Peace sounds like a session jam from a latter-day Ringo Starr album (and could have been axed from the final product for its tired hokum). Despite Repeated Warnings was – to these ears at least – a potent shot across the bow against Brexit/Trump thinking and it’s as ideologically loaded as McCartney’s ever been. The seven-minute track packs a genuine punch.
The whole thing is really quite smashing, and shows that through his latter work, from the original single My Valentine from Kisses on the Bottom, to Queenie Eye from New, he’s still got what it takes to create music as impressive as he ever did on The White Album all them years ago.
While his contemporaries still in the recording game seem content to tour their greatest hits, or churn out albums of American standards, McCartney seems intent on continually showing why he’s the 20th-21st century Mozart.