Paul McCartney - Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

2006-03-30 07:12

Chaos and Creation on the Backyard, despite its clunky title, is a genuine, charming singer-songwriter album.

Because McCartney's style is so recognisable, there's always a danger his songs will be submerged in it. The first single, the perky "Fine Line" has the markings of a typical McCartney track on it. The easy melody, and the eight grand piano chord chugs per bar all barrel along to a perfect 3.05 minute finish.

But this song doesn't really define the album, which takes a thoughtful, low-key direction overall, and is skilfully sparse but never thin on the ears. Even "Jenny Wren", with it's light echoes of Beatles classics ("Michelle" and the goosebumpy "Blackbird " in particular) is polished to luminous studio-gloss perfection.

Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich achieves a unified sound that doesn't rely on a heavy hand and the instrumentation is tastefully adventurous. Ever heard a Duduk? Well top dudukist Pedro Eustache plays this unusual reed instrument on "Jenny Wren". You get the feeling they used the duduk not to show off by being willfully obscure, but because a clarinet might have been too harsh on the ears for that track.

Paul McCartney plays most of the instruments, with various grand pianos forming the base accompaniment of most of the mildly-paced ballads.

So it's pure Paul McCartney, but that doesn't mean it's old hat. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is a surprise bloom with few weak tracks and many wonderful ones full of ache and tenderness. While the themes may be general, the album is about specific loves and losses. For example, its highlight, the bitterly perceptive "Riding to Vanity Fair", warns against the loneliness worldwide fame brings. Erm, thanks, will keep an eye open for THAT ever-looming threat...

Chaos and Creation on the Backyard is such a welcome surprise that you may be tempted to say: "Ok, Sir Paul, now's the time to call it a night (no pun intended). This is how we want to remember you."

But since McCartney is a perceptive, talented musician who's just released one of the most unassumingly sweet mainstream albums of the year, there's surely more magic to come.

- Jean Barker

It mints an unassuming and idiosyncratic style with which McCartney could see out his career. At last, it seems he's found an answer to the previously imponderable question: now what?
- Alexis Petridis for The Guardian

McCartney has opted to revive a pared, understated strand in his oeuvre that allows him to act his age.
- John Harris for The Observer

All great artists make a few not-so-great albums, and Paul McCartney is no exception. He has more than the Beatles' not-so-classic Yellow Submarine against his name. And then there was Wings... but all is forgiven now.

LesleyAnn 2005/11/08 8:43 AM
lumpy codfish??? Being old enough to have had the obligatory 60's BEATLES wallpaper decorating my bedroom (DONT say ONE WORD!!!) I feel qualified to pan yet another McCartney album. John Lennon he is NOT! Eddie Vedder can rest tonight - ditto Eminem and all the other POETS of our day... this is milk jello stuff if it is anything at all - only the raving lunatic McCartney fans will want it... and its ALL GOOD for them.... the latest David Grey is, in a word, simply GREAT!!
Devlyn 2005/11/08 9:35 AM
Chaos and Creation Snippets too short to make an informed judgement, but certainly sounds like "real" McCartney. Will have a good listen at a CD outlet, in audio quality. Sounds good though!
kishore makan 2005/11/08 7:04 PM
pul mccarhney good
Craig Poole 2005/11/08 9:42 PM
Chaos and creation in the backyard Shockingly bland .All the tracks have these purile lyrics and sadly I was beatle fan
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