He may be well into his eighth decade, but Macca is cur­rently on vin­tage form.

Q (UK) - - Contents -

Can Macca keep up his stel­lar stan­dards? How dare you even ask!



It’s 2018 and Paul McCartney still seems un­duly con­cerned with be­ing pop­u­lar and cre­at­ing great art. But then, who can blame him? No one ne­go­ti­ated those con­flict­ing re­quire­ments as ef­fort­lessly as The Bea­tles, and 48 years af­ter their dis­so­lu­tion, he’s no less will­ing to for­sake one for the other. How­ever, that was then. If Macca wants every­one to re­turn him to the top of the charts, he has to hus­tle like it’s 1962. Hence a sum­mer which has seen him es­ca­late an­tic­i­pa­tion for his 25th post-Fabs opus by singing Bea­tles songs in a car with James Corden, play­ing tiny gigs in myth­i­cal lo­ca­tions (Abbey Road, The Cav­ern) and a fran­tic rise in Instagram ac­tiv­ity. But while McCartney can ramp up his pro­file, he doesn’t get to de­cide if his lat­est songs will be held in com­pa­ra­ble re­gard to the stan­dards he’s al­ready given us. At some level, you sus­pect he knows it. “Did you ever get hurt by the words peo­ple say?” he asks on the af­fa­ble chug-rock of Who Cares. The an­swer? “I do.” The good news is that he has lit­tle to fear. This is his most fo­cused set since 2005’ s ex­cel­lent Chaos And Cre­ation In The Back­yard. For Egypt Sta­tion, he has fallen back on Hem­ing­way’s edict that your fore­most duty is to write the truest thing you know. At its core, this is an al­bum writ­ten with one misty eye on the hour­glass. In fact, the fi­nite na­ture of our time on Earth is all over Egypt Sta­tion. It’s there on the record’s big or­ches­tral num­ber Do It Now and it’s also what drives Dominoes, which – along with a sonorous strum­mer called Con­fi­dante – serves as a re­minder that McCartney still knows how to tease out a juicy ear­worm when left alone in the stu­dio. If you heard the first two songs to be re­leased from the record, the af­fir­ma­tive power pop of Come On To Me and the au­tum­nal self-doubt of I Don’t Know, you’ll know that his melodic skills are still in fine fet­tle. So what lack is he try­ing to ad­dress by en­list­ing the ser­vices of OneRepub­lic hit-maker Ryan Ted­der on Fuh You, a song which, at best, sounds like a cast-off by the band fun., with the ex­tra awk­ward­ness of the tit­u­lar in­nu­endo? By his own ad­mis­sion, he was try­ing to write a hit. But of course, there’s more than one way to re­flect the times, and the bold­est song on Egypt Sta­tion does just that by dif­fer­ent means. De­spite Re­peated Warn­ings sounds like some­thing you’d sooner ex­pect to hear on a Neil Young al­bum. Its metaphor – a ship’s cap­tain over­rid­ing ex­pert advice and nav­i­gat­ing his ves­sel to cer­tain doom – might as eas­ily ap­ply to Brexit as it does to Trump. What could have very eas­ily sounded di­dac­tic or clumsy hits home, not least be­cause the in­creas­ingly gnarled tex­ture of McCartney’s voice re­minds you that you’re lis­ten­ing to some­one who was born into per­ilous times. And, talk­ing of the voice, therein also lies the other emo­tional pull ex­erted by Egypt Sta­tion. As long as McCartney is singing, you’re acutely aware that the great­est song­writer of his gen­er­a­tion is over half­way through his eighth decade. Through the years, we’ve seen Penny Lane and When I’m Sixty-Four as­sume a pathos even their creator couldn’t have fore­seen. We won’t have to wait that long to feel that way about the most af­fect­ing mo­ments on Egypt Sta­tion. The fact that the young dad on the sleeve of solo de­but McCartney is now 76 freights a dewy acous­tic check­list of won­der called Happy With You and the hym­nal in­ti­ma­cies of Hand In Hand with un­avoid­able poignancy. He’s en­joy­ing his mu­sic far too much to stop now. And so, for that mat­ter, are we. ★★★★ PETE PAPHIDES

Lis­ten To: I Don’t Know | Dominoes | De­spite Re­peated Warn­ings

At its core, this is an al­bum writ­ten with one misty eye on the hour­glass.

So pharaoh, so good: Macca main­tains the fab­ness.

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