Paul McCartney exudes brightness on "Egypt Station"

Latest album continues victory lap for former Beatle

Egpyt Station (1)

Album: “Egypt Station”

Artist: Paul McCartney 

Label: Capitol 

Release Date: Sept. 7

Grade: B+

On the first few notes of “Egypt Station,” Paul McCartney makes his intentions clear.

The former Beatle has no intention of revisiting a lifetime’s worth of work in one album. Rather, McCartney wants fans and onlookers alike to know that he’s still making music, pushing for hits and catchy loops that rival the deepest tracks of his solo catalog.

2013’s “New” saw McCartney employ several producers, purposely a generation younger than McCartney, who sought to revitalize his sound to appeal to a younger audience and keep up with the changing landscape of popular music. To say that “New” was a success sells the audacity of the album itself short. The work truly sounded like McCartney was writing like he meant it again. 

“Egypt Station” is an assertion that McCartney is still on top of his game.

With his appearance on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, McCartney maintained his ever positive demeanor that is infectious for all who surround the icon. It’s a perk of being one of the most recognized figures in the history of popular music, and one that has ensured at least some form of attention from eclectic listeners for years. 

With the seamless and fitting plug of his newest single “Come On To Me,” McCartney was all smiles from beginning to end. It’s as if he knew that he was making music he knew people would like once again, expanding on the success of “New” and re-igniting his hit-making penmanship for 2018.

With Greg Kurstin in the production booth, McCartney has found a way to make smiling contagious on “Egypt Station.” Catchy hooks and melodies are so effortlessly Beatle-esque that it’s impossible to find a specific, single damning spot. For all of its simplistic lyrics, “Egypt Station” provides enough backbone and rhythm that the sounds almost jump off of the record, forming a loop of tracks that energizes as the album progresses.

“I Don’t Know” is a moody yet uplifting track that shows McCartney revisiting past successes. The piano-driven track oozes sympathy and painful bliss as McCartney sings about uncertainty. 

Songs like “Happy With You” and “Dominoes” make clear the line drawn by producer Greg Kurstin. Both tracks contain hallmarks of Kurstin’s production value, and he unabashedly leaves traces of his input all over. From the heavy drum grooves that drive “Dominoes” to the deep hitting percussion and bass that infect “Happy With You,” Kustin does little to hide his own vision for “Egypt Station.” Working with Paul McCartney is an opportunity impossible to ignore, and Kurstin finds a happy medium giving McCartney room to breath while providing the necessary support. 

The collection of tracks serves to provide the listener with a road map of sorts, journeying form McCartney’s earliest days. It touches on searching for intimate companionship which would later turn into a yearning for love to a lifetime of lessons and images sung with clear intent. In a sense, “Egypt Station” drifts towards a self-awareness that McCartney is reaching the closing years of his musical and creative output, and is seeking to leave a mark with freethinking, sing-along tracks. 

The record brings all of the usual aspects of McCartney’s work together with an ear for rejuvenation on the part of Greg Kurstin. The album is a sonic mix of simple beats and guitar riffs that both pay homage in passing to the past while also striving for difference. 

The difference is apparent in the mix of the old and the new that so clearly presents itself. McCartney has never been one to mince words when it comes to an album, and “Egypt Station” is no different. McCartney’s confidence in his lyrical and musical ability permeates through the entirety of the record. It’s as if McCartney wanted it to sound like an album for the sake of an album. The music provides a clinical amount of production in order to remain relevant to the point where the underlying layer of substance goes unexamined.

16 tracks long, “Egypt Station” could have essentially been the exact same album if it were 10 or 12 tracks long. McCartney has an ear for making his records listenable no matter the setting or feeling. At 76, McCartney managed to deliver an album that ranks highly among his solo output. 

Brian Evans is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.evans@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrianEvansSpec.