By this stage, Paul McCartney has nothing to prove. One of the most successful songwriters in history, he’s toured the world countless times and won gold discs in almost every country where records are sold. But yet here we are, in 2018, and he’s still challenging himself, still pushing himself forward in a way that almost none of his peers would ever dare.
‘Egypt Station’ is the Beatle’s first solo album in five years, and his first on Capitol since 2005. In a way, it feels like Paul McCartney re-embracing his life, his work, and his image – he’s stopped dying his hair, for one, while a flurry of tiny live shows have included landmarks such as Liverpool’s Cavern club. It’s the work of someone comfortable with their own past, confident enough to stand against it.
Whereas 2013’s dazzling but sometimes confusing ‘NEW’ was clustered with co-writes ‘Egypt Station’ is 100% McCartney, a feast of bubblegum melodies intermingling with vast experience and the willingness to try something new – even if it doesn’t always come off.
‘I Don’t Know’ is a deft, coy, neatly pieced together start, while ‘Who Cares’ is a shoulder-shrug rocker, the sound of a legend dismissing the pressure history can hold. ‘People Want Peace’ is an affectionate ode to the principles The Beatles defined for many in the 60s, with ‘Dominoes’ holding a breezy, late summer evening kind of acoustic charm.
Wonderfully produced by Greg Kurstin – he of Adele’s ‘Hello’ mega-success - ‘Egypt Station’ feels fresh, crisp, a real radio record in its clarity and precision. That’s not to say that it’s predictable, however; ‘Caesar Rock’ is a pleasantly oddball piece of out-there psych pop, while ‘Back In Brazil’ is a super-smooth bossa number which actually borders on the surreal.
Everywhere there is the sound of Paul McCartney having fun, a frisky, precocious, lustful experience. Indeed, it’s the singer’s boundless passion which produces two of the records most discussed moments: the flirtatious ‘Come On To Me’ and the self-explanatory romp ‘Fuh You’. Feeling queasy at the thought of an actual pensioner getting lusty? The internet suggests you’re not alone, but perhaps the real flaw is that neither hit home half as well as, say, the Beatles esque psych trip ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’ or the perfectly pleasant ‘Happy With You’.
Finale ‘Hunt You Down / Naked / C Link’ is a neat amalgam piece, a reminder that Paul McCartney’s multi-dimensional talents remain undimmed. Perhaps self-consciously echoing the famed medley that closed ‘Abbey Road’, it’s further sign of the songwriter’s bold ambitions.
At the last count Paul McCartney’s classic hit ‘Yesterday’ had been released by more than 2000 artists, making him one of the most imitated songwriters on the planet. ‘Egypt Station’ feels like Paul McCartney having a blast being Macca, grasping his own identity, and relishing it – a fun, at times downright bold, return it’s something fans will cherish.
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