The Fireman - Electric Arguments
Mark Shields 24/11/2008
Sir Paul McCartney is one of those names in music that automatically assumes baggage, much like David Bowie and Elvis - the new generations of music lovers are told that they are a genius and never really try to find out what makes them so special. This is the problem of great success and being very good at their craft; it is their curse, and some deal with it different ways.
The problem with the way that automatic respect works, is that it can mean backlashes or cause popular opinion to shift in a single generation from heroes to some guys with useless old songs that don't impress anymore. McCartney has never been able to shake the feeling that he is perpetually having to make the second record - the one after the brilliant debut… so maybe The Fireman is a way of trying to banish that name and stigma with a simple and efficient side project.
But The Fireman is not what you'd call a real side project for the ex-Beatle. It is indeed an interesting proposition - unbridled song writing done at break-neck pace without much musing or worrying over the direction, but in its haste the collection of songs seem not to be fully formed or edited and in this respect The Fireman's latest might divide opinion.
On the opener, the blues guitar and rasping vocals are welcome, but it never really goes anywhere, though the ride is pretty good fun. It is much better than most of McCartney's recent solo output, and that might be the point of the name of The Fireman, it might be a way for McCartney to mentally split his concepts apart. The second track is also a little under cooked, but has a charm about it and vocal melodies directly from the mind of a man quite well versed in the method of pushing a song along with melody rather than a story or rhythm.
The lyrics are the albums major downfall and the only evidence that the album was quickly microwaved rather than slowly cooked over several months. The track Travelling Light is a stand out moment on the album, with the kind of background swelling reminiscent of Shoegaze, and the rattling, plucking of keys and haunting vocal riffs in the background prove that maybe with given a little more time to spread its wings, the album could have been something quite different.
The only thing that's confusing about Electric Arguments is that whilst it is different and is kind of experimental, it does beg the question as to why it needed to be under the different band name. There are enough good ideas here for it to be considered for a McCartney completist, but for the casual listener or someone looking for a good record, Electric Arguments might be a bit of a let down - it is by no means a waste of an album, but neither is it a classic.