Maybe passing the magical age of 64 inspired Paul to keep striking whenever the iron got hot. Whatever the secret, he managed to release new albums at his fastest pace in years. But of course, there was a twist, since his newest one would be released under the Fireman moniker, the name given to his collaboration with producer Youth. Unlike the first two Fireman collaborations, which were basically indulgent ambient techno exercises, Electric Arguments actually sounds like a McCartney album, for the simple reasons that it has songs—you know, with vocals and lyrics and everything. That alone makes it worthwhile.
Best of all, he nicely stacks the songs at the top of the order. “Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight” begins with a sampled harp riff before crashing through in stop time with a sound that fans said recalled “Helter Skelter”. Whether or not he’s as angry as he sounds (most people pointed at his ex-wife) will probably never be known. The brief “Two Magpies” recalls “3 Legs” from Ram, on its way to the glorious “Sing The Changes”. “Travelling Light” is a Mellotron-heavy piece that floats for about four minutes before the “chorus” arrives, but it’s worth the wait. The mood is interrupted by “Highway”, an overt attempt to rock, and the canned harmonica effect starts to get annoying at this point. “Light From Your Lighthouse” is another quickie like “Two Magpies”, with a few lines borrowed from “Midnight Special”. While it only goes to a second chord during the choruses, “Sun Is Shining” is still incredibly catchy, and the celebratory “Dance ‘Til We’re High” sounds like one of the best ‘80s songs he could have written.
From there, much of the remainder is more on the ambient side, occasionally punctuated by a vocal. They don’t sound all that different to stand out that much, unfortunately, but at least there’s an attempt to pick up the tempo near the end of the disc. And while the last track is listed as being ten minutes, it’s really only five, with three minutes of silence before another Enoesque segment rumbles in from outer space.
He could have very easily gotten away with calling Electric Arguments a McCartney album rather than hiding it behind the Fireman pseudonym. But this way, because we didn’t expect much, we were very impressed, much more so than we might have been otherwise.
The Fireman Electric Arguments (2008)—3½