The Fireman – ‘Electric Arguments’

November 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide, #60, November 2008.

The Fireman
Electric Arguments
(One Little Indian/Shock)
****

Ageing rockers outstaying their welcome are embarrassing. So is a determination to impart a tottering take on a contemporary ‘young person’s’ genre. So, you’d think The Fireman – the collaborative electronic project by Sir Paul McCartney and producer par excellence Youth (aka Martin Glover) – might be approached with trepidation. But Electric Arguments (their third record) hums a very different tune. From the rollicking, dirty blues guitars and hollering vocals of tearaway opener Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight, this is anything but old man material. Over 13 sketches, they visit the disparate terrains of atmospheric pop, reverb-drowned swamp rock, narcotic house beats and drifts of field-recordings and ambience. Where the previous two Fireman explorations – Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest (1993) and Rushes (1998) – chiefly dealt in electronic sounds, Electric Arguments breathes with instrumental and vocal life. It oscillates between spaciousness and intimacy; pop melodies (Sing the Changes) equalise more taciturn, abstract phrases and textures (Travelling Light, Universal Here). It’s an interesting tension. McCartney’s voice rules these cuts, but never impedes them, and it’s fascinating to hear his iconic vocal chords in such an unfamiliar musical context. Outside of conventional pop/rock idioms, an aging ‘Macca’ still has much to give. A genuine, relatively progressive artistic statement.

Dan Rule

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