The Fireman – Electric Arguments (2008)

History: This time around Paul decided to add vocals to the songs to make the release a bit different than the previous works. Each song was recorded over the course of one day, though not one after the other. The two musicians would work on the songs periodically over the course of a year.

My own personal history and initial prediction: I’m intrigued to hear what added vocals means this time around. Will it be something like the Liverpool Sound Collage, or something approaching a more traditional song? As always, I’m willing to give it a fair shot, as I do feel these albums have improved each time.

Review: If you would have just started to play this album without telling me what it was first, I would have just assumed this was another release by Paul, one that was perhaps a little more rock and blues heavy than his most recent releases but otherwise right on target for him. There really isn’t anything about this album at all that suggests techno or Youth’s involvement until the 11th track on the album, “Lovers in a Dream.” That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with the first ten tracks, most of them are quite good, but they’re fairly standard structured songs with standard verse chorus verse patterns and styles nothing like their previous two releases. It suggests to me that Paul largely did these songs on his own and just let Youth put a few touches here and there in post, and maybe Youth found them all so straight forward that he didn’t want to mix them too hard.

For the ones that finally do start to branch out into the techno and experimental side of things, I think they’re actually really good as well. There’s some degree of standard pop music structure, but they go on electronic techno tangents, and the vocals are usually a little bit looser as well, so that they sound more like what I would expect these songs to sound like. “Universal Here, Everlasting Now” is probably the most experimental, with its range of animal sounds, whispers, and other strange sound bites pushing the limits of what makes up music.

This was apparently the first Fireman release where Paul openly acknowledged his involvement, and I wonder if that has anything to do with the way he’s playing it safer here. I feel so funny sort of admonishing him for not being strange and weird on this album when some of that turned me off of the previous efforts, but I guess I’m just left so confused as to why this is even a Fireman release and not just a Paul McCartney album. Apparently there’s a deluxe edition with remixes and dubs and instrumentals and I’m just like, why isn’t that this album instead? It’s all very odd.

As a Paul McCartney album, I’d say it’s a decent one. Some songs I like more than others, “Travelling Light” was probably one of my favorites. I also really loved the flute that starts off “Is This Love?” It’s a great album with lots of different styles on it, most of which fit Paul pretty well. It’s just not much of a Fireman album and I wonder if that’s why this is their last release to date.

Next Time: Ringo asks Y Not?


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