Paul McCartney, influential rocker and former bassist and singer for the Beatles, is well known for his two-decade-long streak of success in the 1960’s and 70’s. Over half a century later his career is still not over. McCartney, 78, released his 18th solo record, “McCartney III” on Dec. 18.
With 11 tracks, “McCartney III” is the second sequel to McCartney’s debut solo album, “McCartney,” from the year 1970. A decade later in 1980, McCartney released “McCartney II.” Now, 40 years later, the trilogy is complete.
Prior to this album, McCartney’s most recent album, “Egypt Station,” was met with little reaction when it was released in 2018. Some criticised McCartney, saying he was stretching his seven-decade-long music career too thin in a desperate attempt to stay relevant.
This sentiment, while harsh, is reflected in “McCartney III.” McCartney’s lyrics are bland, something that he could have consulted his 10-year-old grandson to improve. The opening title, “Long Tailed Winter Bird,” consists of only three lyrics: “Do you miss me?”, “Do you feel me?”, and “Do you trust me?” In all honesty, Sir McCartney can no longer be trusted to release original, enjoyable content.
Something McCartney has perfected during his many years of music experience is writing a catchy backing track. The flip side to the dry lyrics of “Long Tailed Winter Bird” is the song’s reliance on a captivating guitar riff. While tasteful, the instrumental quickly turns redundant — not nearly enough to satisfyingly fill the five minute and 17 second track.
Further on into the record, “Lavatory Lil” has a steady rhythm and upbeat tune, but is far too reminiscent of the Beatles’ “Polythene Pam” from “Abbey Road.” The similarities between the two songs extend beyond the alliteration in the titles — the lines “You should see Polythene Pam” and “Look out for Lavatory Lil” have the same rhythm and number of syllables. The resemblance is too close to be overlooked.
“Polythene Pam” was written and sung by John Lennon and not McCartney, which leaves listeners to question whether or not the most recent song is plagiarism.
In the next song, “Deep Deep Feeling,” McCartney embraces a modern sound, which, while an exciting departure from his status quo, does not suit him well. The combination of different pitches of voice is stimulating but not necessarily pleasing to the ear. It is nice to hear a fresh style from McCartney, but perhaps the singer should stick with something he is more comfortable with.
“Winter Bird / When Winter Comes” starts out as a frightening reprise to “Long Tailed Winter Bird,” as if listeners had not had enough of the first song already, but evolves into a peaceful ditty reminiscent of the Beatles’ “White Album.” This song alone, the last on the record, is perhaps the saving grace of the entire album.
Throughout the record, the lyrics continue to fall flat. Sure, not every word has to fit perfectly, but the constant repetition leaves much to be desired.
Nevertheless, a few gems stick out from McCartney’s last few albums, such as “Queenie Eye” from 2014’s “NEW” and “Winter Bird / When Winter Comes.” These songs prove that McCartney still has potential for a good record left in him; he just needs to put more time into each album rather than putting them out as rapidly as possible. But at his age, who can really blame him?
“McCartney III” is unmemorable at best, but after a lifetime of hits, McCartney can be cut some slack. Better luck next time, Sir Paul.