The Fireman – Electric Arguments


Before his recent role as one-half of an ugly divorce settlement Paul McCartney attempted to rebrand himself as the "experimental Beatle" countering Lennon’s "Revolution 9" with his as yet unreleased "Carnival of Light." The Fireman McCartney’s sporadic collaboration with producer and Killing Joke vet Martin “Youth” Glover serves as a laboratory for material he deems too far out for conventional release. McCartney began working on an ambient project with Youth in 1994 when everyone from U2 on up felt obliged to "do" electronica and the pairing has outlasted McCartney’s more celebrated hookups with Elvis Costello and Nigel Godrich.

On Electric Arguments offbeat impulses are pursued from lengthy proto-world music intros to an oddly bluesy approach on "Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight" and "Light from Your Lighthouse." Strings squeak mics pick up stray chatter and songs shift in and out of focus. Ever since John Lennon praised his lyric "the movement you need is on your shoulder" in “Hey Jude” McCartney has been enamoured with spontaneous lyrics so the even-more-pronounced lack of finesse is hardly rewarding — sun imagery is so ever-present on Electric Arguments the listener may feel the urge to hop the nearest plane to anywhere warm.

When McCartney tries to sound unlike himself by default he resembles acts he’s influenced such as E.L.O. or World Party. One of Electric Arguments’ most rewarding songs "Sing the Changes" sounds like Crowded House another band Youth produced. With his history and The Beatles’ cultural impact McCartney must be hard-pressed to know where to get back to. By trying to relocate The Beatles’ groundbreaking eclecticism on Electric Arguments McCartney rediscovers the unsteady charm of his 1971 declarations of independence Ram and Wings’ debut Wild Life — hardly The White Album but a welcome demonstration of McCartney’s still-unpredictable muse.