CD: Pop review: The Fireman, Electric Arguments

(One Little Indian) £11.99

Paul McCartney likes to remind the world that he hasn't just been cute, he's also been cutting edge, the Beatle who dabbled with Stockhausen. His third stint as the Fireman, his partnership with producer Youth, finds the pair on inspired form, ready to take risks while knocking out a track a day.

Whereas the Fireman's two previous outings were ambient electronica and drum'n'bass noodling, this time round, says Macca, 'is slightly different ... it's almost like my new album'. Almost. Because although McCartney sings throughout, it's hard to imagine the sonic oddities of Electric Arguments being offered to a mainstream that expects middle eights. Instead, the album opens in a bluesy maelstrom, with Macca shrieking hurt and threat at a lover (who might that be, then?).

From there, it's a rapid tour through his many guises - acoustic balladeer ('Two Magpies'), Wings frontman ('Sing the Changes') and Beatles tributeer ('Sun is Shining') - though at every point Youth transmutes what's thrown at him into something stranger, overlaying growling strings and electronic tics.

The closing 20 minutes are an update of psychedelia, the Floyd-esque 'Lifelong Passion' seguing into the trance beats of 'Lovers in a Dream'. Needless to say, there's a false ending and backward tapes.

There's a nice jab at EMI on the cover, too. That Sir Paul, at his age ...

Download: 'Lifelong Passion'; 'Sun is Shining'


Neil Spencer

The GuardianTramp

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