Release Date: Nov 25, 2008
Record label: Ato Records/Red
Genre(s): Rock, Electronic
This revival is announced boldly by the thumping, full-throated blues-rocker "Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight," but it's not just that McCartney has gotten loud again -- things that McCartney has shied away from over the past two decades suddenly reappear, like the simple, sweet intimacy of "Two Magpies," the grinding rocker "Highway," which finds its loose-legged laid-back cousin in "Light from Your Lighthouse," and a fondness for lazy jazz. He's telling jokes and making noise -- and if you dig underneath the surface it's possible to hear references to his bitter divorce from Heather Mills, a situation he cheerfully ignored on Memory Almost Full -- but this is not merely a McCartney pop album under another name; it is indeed a collaboration with Youth, so this veers off into rather experimental territory, especially toward the end of the album, as it floats away on the circular "Lovers in a Dream" and gets claustrophobic on "Universal Here, Everlasting Now. " McCartney and Youth often strike a delicate balance between these two inclinations, and they're some of the best moments on the album: the delicate waltz of "Travelling Light," the surging "Sing the Changes" (which matches U2 for melodrama), the wall of sound on "Dance 'Til We're High," and the beautiful, meditative "Lifelong Passion (Sail Away).
The Fireman - Electric ArgumentsPaul McCartney takes a psychedelic headphone tripPaul McCartney needs to decide if he wants to sell a lot of records or if he wants to be taken seriously again. Last year’s Memory Almost Full, released on Starbucks' Hear Music imprint, netted him his highest sales in 25 years while taking an artistic step backwards from the subtle majesty of 2005’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. The songs were good, but the production severely underestimated the listener’s willingness to explore.
Paul McCartney likes to remind the world that he hasn't just been cute, he's also been cutting edge, the Beatle who dabbled with Stockhausen. His third stint as the Fireman, his partnership with producer Youth, finds the pair on inspired form, ready to take risks while knocking out a track a day. Whereas the Fireman's two previous outings were ambient electronica and drum'n'bass noodling, this time round, says Macca, 'is slightly different ...
The Fireman is actually two men: alt-rock producer Youth and Paul McCartney. Electric Arguments is their third album together, but unlike its predecessors, this one studs its chilled-out world-beat electronica with pretty psych-folk melodies, propulsive rock grooves, and McCartney’s raw ”Helter Skelter”-ish vocals. Things slow down toward the end (it’s a pity the pan-flute tootling in ”Is This Love?” made the final cut).
It’s no secret that Paul McCartney was the member of the Beatles with the major jones for experimental music. Though George Harrison may have beat him to the punch in releasing a solo album with his understated 1968 Moog jam Electronic Sound, it was Macca’s infatuation with musique concrete and the compositions of Karlheinz Stockhausen that inspired the found-sound collagist nature of such late-period Beatles nuggets as “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Revolution No. 9”.
Paul McCartney launched the Fireman studio project with producer pal Youth to satisfy his experimental jones without annoying Beatles fans who only buy his albums to hear silly love songs. Until now, McCartney seemed content to use the Fireman ruse to record boring instrumental electro-twaddle that he likely thought was frightfully futuristic. But on their third collabo, Electric Arguments, they've ditched most of the whooshy dreamscapes for more song-like structures, with recognizable verse, chorus and bridge elements along with vocals narrowing the gap between these frivolous frolics and what McCartney does for money.
In 1965 Paul McCartney told John Lennon about an idea he had for an album entitled ‘Paul McCartney goes too far’. John responded “Fantastic! Do it! Do it!” It could be argued that Sir Paul has since gone too far many times over: penning ‘Mull of Kintyre’ for example. Let’s not forget, though, ‘Mull of Kintyre’ is one of the biggest selling pop songs in British history.
The sound of old rockers clinging on to their youthful experimentalism is rarely edifying. This is ably proved by the third Fireman collaboration between Paul McCartney and former Killing Joke bassist Youth (a moniker long past its sell-by date). Their website trumpets the "pure musical possibilities" of Electric Arguments, but this is heavily laboured hackwork.