Courtesy of britishbeatlesfanclub.co.uk

The irony of the world’s most familiar rock star releasing an album titled “New” after 15 studio albums is obvious. The naming alone of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney’s latest LP might be enough to leave even the most devoted fans groaning. What could possibly be on this album that hasn’t been already heard?

But while McCartney might have one of the largest catalogs of released music of any current touring musician, with “New,” McCartney once again dodges the washed-up label, proving he still has much to offer the music world.

Immediately from the opening track, it’s clear that this will be a different kind of McCartney album. The energetic “Save Us,” recorded at an impromptu Times Square concert last month, sets Macca’s trademark songwriting against an urgent beat and gritty guitar riff. The result fittingly sets the tone for the 12-track collection.

“New” is a masterpiece of rock songwriting. What might be most impressive about McCartney’s latest release is its ability to sound modern in a changing rock music scene. Unlike many of his boomer-rock contemporaries, he shows a willingness to innovate to stay relevant. Even while retaining his classic songwriting style, the album still shelves comfortably besides the year’s biggest rock releases.

“New” sees a fearless McCartney experimenting with electronic influences; the sleek, subdued “Appreciate” features an atmospheric synth and gated, distorted drum tones that expand into a throbbing chorus. The result is a confident success that only enhances the album’s modern vibe.

After an exhaustive touring schedule and countless public appearances, it’s nothing short of a miracle that the 71-year-old still has energy to write music, not even considering the fact that the album actually stands out from his already extensive catalog.

The standout track of the bunch is “Early Days,” on which McCartney offers a tantalizing glimpse into the mind of a nostalgic Beatle as he sings of “sweet memories of friends from the past” while warning those who try to interpret the past for him that “they can’t take it from [him] if they tried.”

After watching the stage lights go out on an impressive “Out There” tour performance in Washington D.C. this July, I could notice a sense of finality spreading through the stadium. Many had been surprised to see Paul embark on another tour, and tickets were snatched up with the realization that it might be his last. After listening to “New,” however, McCartney’s intentions ring clearer than ever: He’s not hanging up the bass.

Fraumeni is a member of the class of 2017.

 

 



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