PAUL McCARTNEY ”New”

$28.00

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If there’s one single song that can justify the existence of Paul McCartney’s 24th studio album since leaving the Beatles, it’s track number five, “Early Days”. At first blush it seems to be that most heinous of Boomer cliches, the acoustic Those Were the Days ballad where youth-culture narcissism collides with old-people shmaltz, but fairly quickly the song resolves into something much more interesting. While the verses are a rose-tinted reminiscence of McCartney and John Lennon’s brief period of pre-fame friendship in Liverpool, the choruses project something altogether different: “They can’t take it from me/ if they try/ I lived through those early days.” Whereas most of his hippie-era pop contemporaries enthusiastically embraced self-hagiography decades ago, McCartney’s relationship with nostalgia is complicated, and fraught with skepticism, and by embracing these complications he offers an understandably human portrait of a position few of us will ever find ourselves in: watching your life story being converted into mythology by forces outside of your control.

But really, there isn’t a cut out of the thirteen on New that doesn’t make a compelling argument for McCartney continuing to produce music. As his evolving relationship with shmaltz goes to show, he’s continued to stretch out as an artist long after most artists from his generation slipped into a comfortable rut. While it’s not as radical an aesthetic statement his searingly noisy 2008 Electric Arguments, his appearance on a recent EDM banger by Bloody Beetroots, or his stint as frontman for Nirvana, it still pushes hard against the popular conception of what a Paul McCartney record’s supposed to sound like, which is a wonderful thing.