By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
Key Tracks: “I Don’t Know”, “Fuh You”, “Back In Brazil”
Paul McCartney has been a major influencer of modern music as we know it. But this isn’t it. Egypt Station, McCartney’s seventeenth solo album, is the type of album you would give your dad if you wanted him to listen to “new” music.
Read more: Movie Review: The Beatles: Eight Days a Week
It’s hard to be original for over 50 years, especially if you have been one of the biggest icons in music history. But this almost hour-long album pulls quite a few of the same themes from his previous work and makes you wonder if McCartney has any new tricks up his sleeves. The album feels Beatles-esque, in the way that it features simple love songs like “Come on to Me” and “Fuh You”, an extremely cornball call for a better world titled “People Want Peace” and a massive suite (“Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link”) to cap off the album.
It’s clear that McCartney still wants to blend his style with something sleeker and more streamlined. Orchestral moments like the openings of “I Don’t Know” and “Back in Brazil” morph into poppy synth notes and soft rolling beats. Simple songs and chord progressions are bolstered by excellent production value.
On top of this current-feeling production is another pitch to stay young and relevant: songs about wanting to fuck. It’s not that people don’t continue to get it on/want to get it on as they get older, but it’s like listening to your grandpa tell you about his flings when he was young. It may have been cute and sweet, but he’s still your grandpa. These tracks, especially “Come on to Me” and “Fuh You” carry this feeling. That said, “Fuh You” has an especially nice underlying electronic track and fun lyrics. It’s catchy and heartfelt, exactly what you would expect out of McCartney.
Another in-character moment is the obligatory “protest” song. “People Want Peace” feels like a Beatles Christmas song without the jingle bells. The piano sounds pretty close though. Though McCartney is known for his simplicity and warmth, the track is simplistic almost to the point of being laughable, and the lyrics don’t punch as hard as they should. In an era where Childish Gambino’s “This is America” became a national sensation, it’s hard to dig deep into the endless refrains of “People Want Peace” and get the same effect. It’s more suited to play behind a commercial to donate money to poor kids. Nothing wrong with that, it just feels far too soft.
What separates this album from most of his previous work is a thread of darkness and fear unfamiliar to his audience. Songs like “I Don’t Know” and “Confidante” show McCartney’s uncertainty as to how much farther he can go. The mellow and soft opening to “I Don’t Know” paints a picture of his fear before plugging into solo piano chords. It’s an appropriate opening, especially because this feels very similar to the flow of the album, starting slow and sad and then churning away into something else. He’s 76 years old, and he can feel himself slowing down. It’s just crushing to hear him sing it.