16 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

It would be difficult to think of a recording artist currently working who has less to prove than Paul McCartney. Yet in the past decade alone, the former Wings frontman has released, between stops on a seemingly endless stadium tour, one classical album, one electronic album as The Fireman, and now two contemporary pop albums—all of which have managed to burnish what was already rock’s most unburnishable résumé. His 17th solo effort is casually ambitious power pop, delivered with the ease and confidence of someone who invented it. At 76, McCartney finds hooks in relatable topics such as ditching weed for domestic bliss (“Happy With You”) and weathering petty criticism (“Who Cares”), while “Despite Repeated Warnings” and closer “Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link” each clock in at over six minutes, juggling their moving parts in ways that feel complex but never complicated. Producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters) navigates the middle ground between low-hanging nostalgia and trend-chasing modernity, but the biggest curveball comes courtesy of the Ryan Tedder-helmed “Fuh You”—the Macca song you’ll least want to play around little kids since “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

It would be difficult to think of a recording artist currently working who has less to prove than Paul McCartney. Yet in the past decade alone, the former Wings frontman has released, between stops on a seemingly endless stadium tour, one classical album, one electronic album as The Fireman, and now two contemporary pop albums—all of which have managed to burnish what was already rock’s most unburnishable résumé. His 17th solo effort is casually ambitious power pop, delivered with the ease and confidence of someone who invented it. At 76, McCartney finds hooks in relatable topics such as ditching weed for domestic bliss (“Happy With You”) and weathering petty criticism (“Who Cares”), while “Despite Repeated Warnings” and closer “Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link” each clock in at over six minutes, juggling their moving parts in ways that feel complex but never complicated. Producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters) navigates the middle ground between low-hanging nostalgia and trend-chasing modernity, but the biggest curveball comes courtesy of the Ryan Tedder-helmed “Fuh You”—the Macca song you’ll least want to play around little kids since “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

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About Paul McCartney

As Beatlemania was transforming rock ’n’ roll from passing teen fad to permanent pop-cultural movement, Paul McCartney (born in Liverpool in 1942) became the driving force behind the band’s rapid, dramatic maturation. In just two years, he had graduated from the Little Richard worship of 1963’s “I Saw Her Standing There” to the exquisite orchestral balladry of “Yesterday”—a shift that intensified the contrast between McCartney and his increasingly acerbic songwriting partner, John Lennon. But as The Beatles’ entered their late-’60s experimental phase—during which Lennon’s avant-garde impulses came to the fore—McCartney’s traditionalism constituted its own form of radicalism. Within the band’s psychedelic milieu, his embrace of pre-rock forms, like classical (“Eleanor Rigby”) and English music-hall serenades (“When I’m Sixty-Four”), felt no less surreal than The Beatles' use of tape-loop freak-outs and sitar drones. (And this is to say nothing of Paul's sublime bass playing, which elevated the four-string from rhythmic undercurrent to melodic focal point.) His post-Beatles albums have proven equally uncanny and influential: 1971’s art-folk opus Ram provided the lo-fi schematic for future generations of DIY home-recording artists, while the arena-rattling roar of “Jet,” from McCartney's subsequent band Wings’ 1973 LP Band on the Run, shows why he’s become a muse to hard rockers such as Dave Grohl. And by continually collaborating with the hitmakers of the day—from Michael Jackson in the 1980s to Rihanna and Kanye West in the 2010s—he has remained a voracious pop omnivore, as connected to music's past as its future.

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