Paul McCartney – “New”

(Photo Credit: Rolling Stone)

Grade: B+

Key Tracks: “Save Us” “New”

It takes an audacious sense of humor to name a new album “New.” It takes someone even more audacious to also name the leadoff single “New.” And it takes a very bold person to release an album called “New” more than fifty years into their career. But that’s what we expect from Sir Paul. And it’s just over the top that the album is filled with innocent 60′s songs, like contemporaries to the Beatles themselves.

The Beatles first landed in America fifty years ago, and maybe Paul is getting nostalgic. There’s a number of songs on this album that recall memories of Paul’s from before he and John even formed the Beatles. Nowhere is this more noticeable than on “On My Way to Work,” about Paul’s days as a driver. The lyrics are filled with curiosity about life, adulthood and love. The title track is about falling in love and not being able to answer questions about it – a response to his recent marriage, but one that sounds more in place coming from a teenager. Innocent questioning was a big part of the Beatlemania era. Paul’s wide eyes towards the world shouldn’t be believable this late into his career, but it completely works.

Nearly every song, with “Appreciate”‘s modern beats being the only real exception, completely grab the 60′s sound – simple and catchy rhythms, and songs that end on the lower side of three minutes. Not all of them have enough energy to really make the album last, though. “Save Us” and “New” are the most energetic, with the latter being one of the many songs that channel the “Revolver”-era Beatles. But a number of the songs are so self-introspective that they aren’t necessarily memorable. Still, the album acts as a delightful throwback and a change for McCartney, who might just be entering a new phase of his life.

You can never really know what Sir Paul is going to do next. He’s released techno albums and composed classical pieces. Some of his most recent albums have been a little weirder and polarizing than his fans are used to. But “New” kicks it way back, with 60′s jams and simple pop-rock. Although it isn’t overly memorable, it’ll surely be a pleasure to his wide-ranging fans.

If you like this, try: There’s a million classic rock and pop albums I could recommend, so I’ll take a different root: Jake Bugg’s self-titled debut. A teenager from England who channels early ’60’s acts like Sir Paul himself.

-By Andrew McNally

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