Because you demanded so fastly and furiously….
Egypt Station by Paul McCartney [Capitol; 2018]
Opening Station – Intro track, nice ambient choir and train station noises. 40 seconds.
I Don’t Know – Piano soft-rock. Mac’s voice sounds like it has recently; old. Still, the groove is classic P-Mac, a little like the stuff he was rocking in his late-70s ballads. His voice brings a stately edge to this stuff now, and not actually sure I like that. Yet. When I’m 70, I might I’ll differently.
The song is nice enough on first listen. No crazy chords or anything, but it’s understated in a good way. I wish Andy Partridge would go back and make a record with this vibe (and prob. neater chords).
Come On to Me – pretty terrible Super Bowl rock. Really, who wants to hear about an elderly man “resisting temptation”? The groove itself is completely irrelevant in the face of almost any rock being made today (not much actually, does that somehow justify this?). Frankly, I wouldn’t have liked this in 1990 either. And lol for quoting the drum beat from “We Are the Champions”.
Happy With You – right off the bat, classic McCartney acoustic guitar + foot tap sound. On the subject of his voice, I still get sad imagining his younger voice singing this, even his voice of 20 years ago. But I shouldn’t be. It’s the song, not the singer as they say, sort of, and I think I’ll always like tunes like this. (Not sure I buy that he spent a lot of nights getting “wasted” tho. Baked maybe…)
Who Cares – guitar feedback intro belies pretty typical P-Mac roots-rock groove (reminds me particularly of some of the Steve Miller collabs on Flaming Pie). Not really my thing.
Fuh You – I heard about this song. I heard it sucked. First listen, already can see what people were saying, as far as him trying to sound “current” or whatever. However, it’s more generic and lame, than inappropriate and awkward. Did he even write this? Doesn’t sound like his kind of song structure, but who knows, maybe he was copying someone else specifically. Okay, “I just wanna fuh you” is inappropriate and awkward.
Confidante – Rootsy, acoustic-strummed ballad. Could see Jeff Lynne being a part of this, maybe inserting a Harrison-esque slide solo, or those big, puffy room drums. However, not Beatlesque per se (and not terribly interesting in general), but pleasant enough. Lol did he just say “bromance”?
People Want Peace – Über Boomer title, and the track is what you’d expect from a P-Mac rock peace-anthem. That is, a little too bouncy, optimistic and happy for its own good. But again, who else writes like this anymore? Nice vocal harmonies, simple band arrangement a la Wings. Handclaps and communal refrain at the end nod to “Give Peace A Chance”.
Hand In Hand – Piano ballad, minor key. The chorus has some nice chords, and tricky meter, but somewhat indistinct. Yikes, pan flute solo.
Dominoes – Another rootsy pop song, again seeming like something Jeff Lynne should be in on. One thing I’m noticing on Egypt Station is fairly uncomplicated arranging/producing (even if I find it overly compressed, like much recent McCartney). I like the basic sound, because when Mac comes in with something as simple as a double-tracked voice, it makes a big impact. Also like the backwards guitar solo at the end. Nice one.
Back In Brazil – Vaguely bossa/samba-influenced song. Of course. Also return of pan flute sounds. Still, it’s got interesting touches, like the clarinet solo, and out of nowhere “Ichiban!” chant (??). This is the kind of thing that P-Mac has always done, tugging at the edge of what pop songs are supposed to sound like. It’s not “experimental”, but it’s way more ambitious than it had to be.
Do It Now – “Beatlesque” piano + harpsichord ballad imploring me to “do it now, while the feeling is here”. Coming from an old dude, it’s kind of a grim message, but I guess that’s part of the point? I like the Abbey Road-esque guitar backdrop, and plush vocal harmonies– and okay I see! This is his “Because” homage. A little too on-the-nose in that respect, on first listen, and the lyrics are already seeming blunt. We’ll see if this opens up beyond those aspects on subsequent listens.
Caesar Rock – Weird production on this (and still too much compression). Iberian chords are nice, and the reverb on his belting voice sounds good. Still, as much as I like him still trying to push forward on these songs, this one might have worked better trimmed down — no call-response vocals, no hand-claps, dial back the energy by a third. The problem I have with a lot of his most recent stuff (post Chaos & Creation), is that he doesn’t seem to have learned anything from that great 2005 record. He can’t resist turning songs into production numbers, rather than just keeping them songs. Also groan for “caesar rock” / “she’s a rock” pun thing.
Despite Repeated Warnings – Another piano ballad. I think the album has gone on too long, because I’m having trouble focusing on this (6+ minute) song now. There’s another 6+ minute song after this one. Come on, man.
As you might’ve guessed, this one changes up the style mid-way through, a la “Live and Let Die” / “Uncle Albert” / “Band On the Run” / many others. This is why first impressions should only carry so much weight, I need another chance to approach this stuff when I’m not already saturated by McCartney.
Okay, walked away to get an apple, let’s dive back in.
Station II – ambient/choir intro reprise
Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link – First read as “hunt you down, naked” and thought surely this has to be a rickroll’d leak. As it stands, more Super Bowl rock on the first part.
Second part is bluesy shuffle ballad, a la “Oh Darling”, though the chorus is a nice minor-key variation on the older tune’s belted plea. I like it, tho probably should have been made its own song, rather than being placed in a medley.
The finale is a straight slow-blues thing — actually, it’s a drone, no 12-bars here. Nice, understated solo, that turns into a Middle Eastern-tinged melody with strings. Not generally my aesthetic, but it closes the record okay.
So, dunno, first impression is generally good/okay, but only a handful of songs I’d put on my phone. Ha, like most McCartney records, outside the classics.