Electric Arguments is the new album by the Fireman - Paul McCartney and Youth (the bassist for Killing Joke – whoever that is.) I did not buy the first two Fireman albums. They were strange ambient music – at least the part I can hear on samples from itunes – and, while I can appreciate ambient music I’m not sure I want to invest in it. But this new one is different. This has Paul singing. He and Youth went into the studio with no song in mind and no plan and, by the end of the day had a recording. He did this 13 times over the year. The result is an album that is part McCartney being his tuneful self, part McCartney being his experimental self and part Youth being his, well, youthful self.
So, what do I think? Well, on the one hand, I’m not sure yet. It is a bit of a strange album. On the other hand in the week since I’ve picked it up I find myself playing it over and over again. I haven't done this with any other album since Memory Almost Full, McCartney’s last album. I find myself entranced by the moodiness of the songs, by the interesting arrangements and by the sheer variety. There are also some really cool moments on the album.
Many reviewers are saying that this is the best McCartney album in decades – some say since Ram. Now I don’t remember people going all crazy over Ram or saying that that was one of McCartney’s best albums but, OK, Ram was a cool album and I can see why they say that Electric Arguments reminds them of it. But it also sometimes reminds me of Magical Mystery Tour and of McCartney II and also of Press to Play – did anyone else buy that one??? But to say that it’s McCartney’s best in decades is to minimize the cool stuff that McCartney has done lately. He’s done a lot of really outstanding albums lately – Flaming Pie, Chaos and Creation and Memory Almost Full have all gotten strong reviews and they’ve all been called the best in years from McCartney. (Reviewers seem to have short memories.) But because Electric Arguments is a collaboration with a producer it has a different flavor than his other albums, much like Chaos and Creation did.
So Electric Arguments is not “McCartney’s best”, nor is it a “return to form” or any of those things that some reviewers are saying. But it is a very good experimental album from an artist who, to a greater or lesser extent, does this a lot more often than he gets credit for. And I just can't seem to take it out of my CD player.
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