Paul McCartney's 'New': What the Critics Are Saying
The living legend manages to make pop music that can "still invigorate, inspire and surprise" on his latest album.
Living legend and former Beatle Paul McCartney released his latest album, New, on Tuesday at age 71.
It is his first album of entirely original material since 2007's Memory Almost Full.
McCartney has been generating a lot of press lately, with his appearance on Jimmy Fallon's late-night talk show, comments in defense of Miley Cyrus and an impromptu concert at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens.
Now his latest effort, which was created with the collaboration of four young producers -- including Mark Ronson, who famously worked with Amy Winehouse -- has hit shelves. Industry critics are altogether complimentary of the album, but several note that it doesn't quite live up to its title.
"While the sound isn't wholly new, it's a nice change of pace for an artist who can still update his image some 50 years after The Beatles' first hit," writes Andrew Hampp of Billboard. He credits the four producers, who "inject some much-needed energy and edge into McCartney's music."
Similarly, Will Hermes of Rolling Stone highlights the Ronson-produced tracks as the album's "best moments, splitting the difference between then and now" by incorporating "White Album guitar grit with stoner synth-pop ambience."
Randall Roberts joked about the incessant enthusiasm about The Beatles in the Los Angeles Times, but admitted it wasn't unwarranted. He praises McCartney for crafting an album "tinged with nostalgia" that "sounds contemporary but not desperately so, one that suggests his work with The Beatles but not reductively so." He even refers to the ballad "Looking at Her" as one that "typifies the composer's best songs."
"The title of the album is almost comically inaccurate," says Ben Greenman of the New Yorker, but regardless heralds the album as "perfect." Greenmann writes that "it's filled with songs that are without meaning but not meaningless."
Some reviews weren't without allusions to Beatles songs.
"Decades ago, when McCartney envisioned being 64, he likely didn't predict that, at 71, he'd be an active rocker," remarks Elysa Gardner of USA Today. She highlights his work on "Alligator" and "I Can Bet" as possessing "a friskier edge, his voice purring slyly over the jangly guitars and insistent bass."
Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A-, and acknowledges the album for attempting to branch out from the typical McCartney sound. "Not only does it announce McCartney's first batch of original songs in six years, it also celebrates the idea that pop music can still invigorate, inspire, and surprise -- even if you had a hand in inventing it."
Across the pond, Kitty Empire of the Guardian is reluctant to give in to the McCartney charm. She claims that the new sound "needs to perform a move of such complexity that it would be more at home in yoga: looking forward, while looking back, while remaining relevant" and that the singer "almost does it."