How Big How Blue How Beautiful
Paul McCartney might not be learning any new tricks but he's sprucing up some old ones.
This eminently Google-able album (but just imagine what an awful time the follow-up's going to have) sees Fab Macca get down to recording some original songs for the first time since 2007's Memory Almost Full, and he sounds fresher and simply more interesting than he has in 20 years. Maybe getting those Kisses On The Bottom out of his system last year was just the ticket.
McCartney's got together with some intriguing production talent this time out, with a nod to his past in Giles "son of George" Martin and forages into the future with Mark Ronson, Adele producer Paul Epworth and Laura Marling/Kings Of Leon knob-twiddler Ethan Johns. Whatever their direct influence, New is always going off in exciting directions – a wash of electronics on the Johns-produced Hosanna, weird synth echoes on the Epworth-helmed Queenie Eye – which suggests they're at least bringing zingy ideas to the table.
But all that fairy dust would be nothing without good songs, and that's the really gratifying thing about New. In the me-and-John acoustic pick through the past that is Early Days ("Guitars across our backs/We would walk the city roads") and the heart-stoppingly beautiful Looking At Her, McCartney's genuinely come up with a couple of numbers that might rank with his classics. And you can't ask for much more than that.