To be honest I don’t know WHAT the heck would have happened to me last year that I would have missed note of this new Paul Mccartney album of last year. It must have been a lot of whisky sours or something. Either way, upon announcement of an imminent reissue coming up these months, I’ve actually come around to it and I must say it’s great, far better than his work with Wings (ahem I hate Wings by the way).
Obviously, it can be overwhelming, especially the older you get, trying to keep up on all the new music that’s coming out. What satisfaction, then, the fan of this guy’s band and general m.o. will get at the fact that Egypt Station is great for just BEING a Paul McCartney album, in the purest form. He doesn’t overextend himself, it’s not deliberately or excessively eccentric — he’s always been a guy who understood rock and roll and felt it keenly all throughout and this project finds an ideal platform for him to just get back in that groove that he’s always connected with, and in which he’s always connected with millions.
No, this probably isn’t what you’d call “revolutionary” or “avant-garde” music (kindly note that the Beatles gave us plenty of that when they were together). It is, however, quite refreshing in texture even within the context of the late teens, with an ethereal, gradual opening track melding into piano and various clearly-accounted guitar textures in the tracks to follow. One of the guitars I thought sounded like a sitar but I couldn’t find such an instrument in the Wikipedia “personnel” section, although this writeup of equipment used is a marvel in and of itself for music nerds, and again, refreshing, in this digital age.
Egypt Station is an album that seems influenced by everything, in a sense, including certain personal problems like addiction, and maybe even the solo work of his old bandmate John Lennon. But again, it’s the way he pares these feelings and visions down to catchy, digestible songs that makes it great and makes it quintessentially McCartney, at that. Of particular note, for a couple reasons, would be track six “Fuh You,” on which believe it or not the chorus is “I just wanna fuh you”, an apparent endorsement of sexual flair (sexuality is endorsed cursorily elsewhere as well, in delightfully un-PC form). Perhaps oddly, the way I listen to music mandates that I gloss over the chorus and fixate on the overall strategy and protocol used to put the tune together (perhaps for this reason I’m not always great at telling what songs are “about,” or just don’t care). And with “Fuh You,” we have by my count the second instance of this hilariously bizarre use of Danger Mouse-type pop production by a classic rock veteran, the first being Weezer’s “Feels Like Summer.” Sure enough, Adele producer Ryan Tedder had his hands on this cut, finding McCartney definitely outdoing the sometimes awkward Weezer, much to my satisfaction (I sort of get an anti-American thing going on, sometimes). The first telltale signs of this dip into contemporary pop are digital finger-snaps and that grandiose organ layering that Imagine Dragons and Coldplay have employed on their own work. The song leads to a soiree of a chorus with full, programmed beat and that sort of compressed layering that suggests some thorough, mainstream-minded studio doctors were performing on it. Still, it somehow doesn’t quell the energy of the album, McCartney’s dumb requests just forming more of the honest, human lyrical tapestry at work on Egypt Station. Don’t be surprised if should they pump this sucker at an actual “Egypt Station,” anyway, the crowds get big and it starts to look more like a lad dive than a mosque or tomb.