After half a decade of waiting, fans of former Beatles star Paul McCartney can finally revel in his new solo album “Egypt Station.” Released Sept. 7, this collection of 14 tracks — and two instrumental bookends — marks the 16th album of McCartney’s largely underwhelming solo career. While “Egypt Station” might not signal a ‘break’ for McCartney’s solo efforts, it certainly has more potential than its predecessors and is likely to be a milestone of the singer-songwriter’s late solo career.
“Egypt Station” is unique in its travelogue vibe. The album “starts off at the station on the first song, and then each song is like a different station,” McCartney wrote in a statement published by producing company Capitol Records. “I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from,” he wrote.
The album features an eclectic melange of tracks, charged with a whole spectrum of emotions in which existentialism and profound contemplations morph into lust and light-hearted, crude humor.
One of the first tracks “Egypt Station” greets the listener with “I don’t know,” one of the two singles McCartney released ahead of the album. The unmistakably McCartney-esque piano ballad is infused with a amalgam of angst, frustration and self-doubt accompanied by carefully scattered dashes of fatalism and reassurance. “I don’t think I can take it any more,” McCartney croons, in this raw confession of human emotion. “Where am I going wrong? I don’t know. … What’s the matter with me?” he sings. His contemplation and self-doubt is briefly replaced with a deceptive sense of optimism. “But it’s alright, sleep tight, I will take the strain,” McCartney warbles, almost reassuringly, before swiftly transitioning back to his former pessimistic, contemplative and existentialist frame of mind.
If “I don’t know” produces the impression that at age 76, McCartney is now fatigued and ready to slow down, pop rock songs such as “Come On To Me” and “Fuh You” are quick to suggest otherwise.
“If you come on to me, I’ll come on to you,” McCartney chants between a sequence of animated doot-doo-doos in the former track, while a similarly salacious “You make we wanna go out and steal. … I just want to fuh you” marks the latter. With McCartney’s age and knighthood in mind, this vulgarity is somewhat shocking. While it seems unlikely that the singer-songwriter is attempting to belie his age, it is possible that he is trying to lend a contemporary vibe to his music.
As “Egypt Station” rolls along, McCartney delves into themes ranging from love and friendship to politics. Amid constant shifts in mood and tempo, he condemns President Donald Trump in “Despite Repeated Warnings,” discusses family life in “Back in Brazil,” reminisces about his drug usage in “Happy With You” and reflects on friendship in “Confidante.” Despite being a fusion of such starkly contrasting pieces of music, the vicissitudes of the album, somehow, do not seem uncomfortable at all. The records retain incredible musicality, while simultaneously being a reflection of McCartney’s stream of consciousness. Indeed, while much of McCartney’s solo records may have had questionable success, it’s safe to say that “Egypt Station” really nails its tracks.