Having carefully crafted his previous two albums with a broad pop audience in mind (both Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and Memory Almost Full were heavily promoted at Starbucks), Paul McCartney returns to the more unpolished, improvisational bent of his first few post-Beatles solo records with Electric Arguments, a revival of his mid-‘90s “Fireman” collaboration with Killing Joke bassist Youth. While Chaos and Memory are not without their charms, their fussiness and reigned-in propriety didn’t necessarily play to McCartney’s considerable strengths. But Arguments impresses most for its lack of inhibitions. From the blistering blues stomp of opener and standout single “Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight” and the hard-driving piano rock of “Highway” to the deceptively simple, lovely “Two Magpies” and Phil Spector-inspired production on “Dance ‘Til We’re High,” McCartney plays it anything but safe. In fact, he sounds downright youthful here. When Youth exerts a greater influence on the latter half of the album, the flourishes of psychedelia and the experimental structures on tracks like the ethereal “Lovers in a Dream” and the epic-length closer “Don’t Stop Running” still work within the record’s free-form aesthetic. It’s the album’s riskiness and its swagger (McCartney even gets in a dig ax ex-wife Heather Mills on the opener, snarling, “The last to do was try to betray me”) that makes Electric Arguments so exciting and that proves that, whatever name he records under, McCartney can still pull off something unpredictable more than 40 years into his career.
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: