Back in 1993, two anonymous musicians calling themselves The Fireman released an album of highly experimental electronic dance music through an indy label. The album was called Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest. It was well received but didn't make the slightest splash. Then in 1998 The Fireman reappeared with another electronic dance music album called Rushes. It was better received than the first, but also didn't chart, not surprisingly since it too was rather experimental. (Personally, I thought SOSF better than Rushes, but whatever).
Then The Fireman was outed as being Paul McCartney and a guy called Youth, who I'd never heard of. They'd just wanted to play around without any fuss. After all, McCartney doing electronica? Who'd believe it?
Okay, I admit to being a huge Beatles fan. This got my attention.
The Fireman released their third album last week, called Electric Arguments, and since there's no longer any point in hiding who they are, this album includes vocals, which the first two didn't since you could hardly hide McCartney if he's singing.
Electric Arguments is the best thing McCartney's done since Band On The Run.
I'd assumed Paul was done for after he released Memory Almost Full earlier this year. But then I thought, fair enough; the guy's 66 years old now and has (had) his personal problems. He's allowed to release something soporific now he's in his dotage.
Electric Arguments proves I was wrong. It's full of energy. It has a raw sound. Every track was completed in a single day. It's still a little bit experimental, but it's a lot more commercial album than the previous two. There were places where I thought as I listened, this is what the Beatles might have become.
The pick of the songs are Sing The Changes, Lifelong Passion, Light From Your Lighthouse, and Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight. Any of the four could have appeared on a Beatles album and not been out of place.
Lifelong Passion sounds like something that might have appeared at the back of Revolver, the album the Beatles did before Sgt. Peppers. Lifelong Passion has a beat and harmony that's mildly reminiscent of their Indian period. In fact, as I listened, I kept waiting for Harrison to chime in with his sitar. It also has a Beatley harmonica hidden in the background.
Sing The Changes is probably the most commercial of the tracks and is more Wingsy than Beatley, very uplifting, bouncy and optimistic.
Light From Your Lighthouse, sounds like one of those jokey Beatles songs that Harrison tended to go for. Very American gospel bluesy.
Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight sounds like it came straight off the White Album. In fact, I wish it had, because it would have been far better placed there than some of the stuff the Beatles were doing at that time. The song sounds like the playing and singing of a 20 year old. I hope I have that much energy when I'm 66. (Hmmm...When I'm 66...might make a good song title).
How on earth did McCartney go from the deadly Memory Almost Full to this? I think what's happened is, McCartney left to himself tends to polish things to perfection, and drains plasma from the music as he does it. Lennon is known to have been impatient in recording, so that McCartney had to finish a lot of the songs while Lennon egged him to move on. The balance came out right.
In Youth, McCartney seems to have found someone who won't let him rework something to death, so Youth is delivering the same sort of counter-balance McCartney got before, and that and the speed they're working at, and the willingness to take risk, *really* improves the music. Someone needs to give Youth a medal.
Summary: It's good! The best thing McCartney's done in a long time and worth a listen.