McCartney III

McCartney III

McCartney III is obviously not Paul McCartney’s third solo album. (It’s his 18th.) What binds this with its two eponymous forebears, beyond any particular stylistic thread, is its reaction to some sort of major dissolution. McCartney followed The Beatles’ sudden and bitter breakup in 1970, McCartney II came at the end of Wings’ decade-long run in 1980, and the 2020 edition, performed and recorded by himself at his studio near his home in Sussex, England, of course, results from the breakdown in normal everyday life and society. “It was really good to be able to play music, and make up music, and put your thoughts and your fears and your hopes and your love into the music,” McCartney tells Apple Music. “So it kind of saved me, I must say, for about three or four months it took to make it.” Bookended by acoustic songs about birds—certainly in the man’s wheelhouse—much of the album feels appropriately homespun, unadorned and immediate, taking pride in its lack of fuss as it slides from style to style. “Slidin’” is as heavy and sludgy as “Find My Way” is playful and “The Kiss of Venus” is fragile. And he embraces his formidable past, which helps III earn its legacy. “Lavatory Lil” can’t help but feel like a sonic and spiritual cousin to “Polythene Pam,” while “Seize the Day” channels his pre-Wings band in a way that McCartney himself was initially alarmed by. “I wrote that on piano,” he says. “I'm thinking, 'Yeah, I like this,' but then you check yourself, you go, 'Is this too Beatle-y? Do I need to kind of stop and get radical here somewhere?' The chorus, the descending bassline—it's very Beatle-y, but you know what? Once you're done that little question and said, 'Should I be doing this?' the answer is, yes, you should. Just embrace this whole thing and have some fun.”

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