Album Review: Paul McCartney—“New”

By Emily Posteraro

It has been six years since Paul McCartney released an album of originals, but if you thought he was finally ready to retire from writing new material, you could not be more wrong. New was released on October 11th, 2013, and the album sounds like Macca’s still not done expanding his musical horizons. Not by a long shot.

Perhaps the reason it took so long for him to release a new album could be explained by the ambition heard on New. Collaborating with four producers, all with differing genres of expertise, Paul delivers an album that is comparable in its broad scope of musical styles to such Beatles albums as Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. The recordings vary greatly in musical style, yet still make sense when brought together on an album. But, really, Paul is still just doing what he does best: creating catchy and fresh- sounding pop songs.

The album opens with a driving guitar riff and playful handclaps: “Save Us” couldn’t have done a better job of immediately raising expectations for the rest of the album. And the songs that follow don’t disappoint. “Appreciate” sounds ‘90s-inspired and is a fantastic synth-heavy stand-out on the album, while “I Can Bet” evokes a ‘70s feel with its disco beat. The album continues to ooze nostalgia; “Early Days” is a simple but poignant acoustic piece written about Paul’s friendship with John Lennon, and an old street game played by Paul as a boy finds its way into the lyrics of the epic second single “Queenie Eye”.

New has all the elements of a great pop album: sing-along choruses, appealing chord progressions, playful melodies, and of course a few “silly love songs”.  Perhaps the song on the album that best encompasses all of these qualities is the enticing first single and title track. The song makes use of a harpsichord and mellotron and features Beach Boys-like vocals, making it strongly reminiscent of the ‘60s. Bright and optimistic, “New” is proof that Paul can write a cheerful love song that is almost on par with classics from his Beatlemania years.

It’s been over 50 years since the first Beatles album was released, and New shows that, at the ripe age of seventy-one, Paul’s still got it. Even if you’re sceptical, trust me, the album is well worth a listen. And maybe I should have clarified this at the beginning, but this isn’t an album that’s only for die-hard fans of Paul McCartney or the Beatles. It’s an album for fans of music. The diversity of the songs set aside, the album impresses because it integrates old and new sounds. It’s the perfect example of an artist who is well in touch with both the present and the past, flawlessly making nostalgic themes sound new. Maybe that’s what New is all about: how some things just never get old.

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