Paul McCartney – New (2/5)
You would assume that anyone would know who they are by the age of 71, but that’s definitely not the impression formed by Paul McCartney’s most recent album New. It’s a bizarre fusion of genres, and although NME describes the sound as “retro-modernist”, this mash-up makes the whole record sound disjointed. ‘New’ combines rock guitar riffs and sing-along pop vocals with random electronic distortion, and the overall effect being one of 80s synthpop gone wrong rather than the modern sound for which McCartney was presumably aiming.
Another grating detail of New is its monotonous nature. McCartney proves in the occasional gem such as ‘Turned Out’ that his vocals still have range and power, which is why it’s such a pity that the majority of tracks are so repetitive. Often songs start out catchy and upbeat, but the lack of variation throughout kills the fun. ‘On My Way to Work’ is reminiscent of a nursery rhyme, while weak high-pitched vocals on the bridge of ‘Alligator’ ruin an otherwise decent tune.
There are a few strong tracks: the beautiful and gentle love song, ‘Hosanna’, which at last reminds the listener that Sir Paul was once a Beatle, the charming, acoustic ‘Early Days’ and ‘Everybody Out There’, whose ending breaks into soulful, passionate rock. Though this is musically no masterpiece by any means, McCartney rarely fails to be endearing. He has achieved his goal in creating a “joyful” record, but there is a significant lack of depth which renders the whole collection forgettable.
Fall Out Boy – PAX AM Days (1/5)
In April this year Fall Out Boy broke their musical hiatus with the extremely promising, clever and overall successful album ‘Save Rock and Roll.’ Things were looking good for the band: despite their absence they managed to keep their unique pop-punk sound whilst adding a 2013 twist, overall delivering a first-rate album.
Skip forward to October and things seem to have gone a bit haywire. The 15th of the month saw the release of new mini-album ‘PAX AM Days.’ Produced by Ryan Adams and recorded in his PAX Am studio in LA, the 8-track EP sees a whole new Fall Out Boy. The Illinois four-piece seem to have binned their roots for a much heavier, ‘hard-rock’ tone, but I think it’s safe to say the transition has not gone swimmingly.
The 8 short tracks, varying in length from 1:03 to 2:42, each have different levels of utter musical disappointment. Rammed with excessively overdriven, bland guitar riffs, and shamefully unintelligent lyrics, the EP starts up accordingly with the wailing, repetitive noise that is ‘The Art of Keeping up Disappearances’. The embarrassingly unimaginative lyrics of ‘American Made’ are all-round cringeworthy: “I just want my childhood back, I just want my childhood back” shouts Patrick Stump; well, I just want my one minute and 39 seconds back, please.
The second track on the album, ‘Hot to the Touch, Cold on the Inside’, isn’t actually completely hopeless and does incorporate some of that much needed Fall Out Boy flair, however it would work much better on the soundtrack to a skateboarding video game than on an actual release.
Some might be overjoyed to hear of a heavier guitar band emerging, however Fall Out Boy have not quite got it right just yet.
Eliza Doolittle, In Your Hands (3/5)
Her jazz-influenced, ska-infused pop is sweet to the point it’s slightly uncomfortable to hear her swear on ‘Hush’, but this is certainly no bubblegum pop. The musical background she comes from has clearly crept into her style, ensuring it goes beyond something that could easily be confused with Lily Allen, a songstress with whom she shares a familiar sounding vocal.
The similar sound of a few tracks blends them together in a way that could easily be the album’s downfall, suggesting it is an album’s album, rather than holding gold mine hit singles. However, she manages to escape this with some standout tracks. There’s something more powerful with Doolittle, and it’s encapsulated brilliantly in the uplifting ‘No Man Can’. Her raspy, soulful voice croons about falling in love and makes this track one which could easily feature on the soundtrack of a Nancy Meyers film.
‘Big When I Was Little’ is jazz and brass and nostalgia bundled up in a groovy, easy to sing along to track, however the gold medal has to go to ‘Walking on Water’, a vocally-dynamic melody with a funky as anything beat in the chorus. Plus, who could resists the lyrics “Sometimes I wish I was Jesus/I get my Air Max on and run across the sea for you”? I know I can’t.
Photos: JoePvin, Label1, xclusive