McCartney stays fresh, familiar on 'New'
Paul McCartney, (Hear Music)
For his 16th solo record, and first of original material in six years, Paul McCartney turned to a team of four hot producers to come up with something “New.” The result is both fresh and comfortably familiar. McCartney, a master of the catchy 3-minute pop song, isn't reinventing himself here as the title may suggest. Rather, he's once again compiling an enjoyable 45 minutes or so of toe-tapping pop songs that are sure to please his longtime fans while doing little to break much truly “new” ground.
Just try listening to “On My Way to Work” or “Queenie Eye” without bobbing your head along to the beat. Love him or hate him, few can pump out these types of ditties quite like McCartney. The mere fact that McCartney is able to come up with something that isn't a simple retread of his past successes must be considered a success.
— Associated Press
Pearl Jam (Monkeywrench/Republic)
For its 10th album, “Lightning Bolt,” Pearl Jam revisits the themes of its debut “Ten” as older, wiser, craftier rockers. “You think we've been here before, you are mistaken,” Eddie Vedder sings in the darkly sarcastic “Infallible,” which recognizes life's shades of gray, musically and lyrically, better than the guys who wrote “Black.” With the help of producer Brendan O'Brien, Pearl Jam incorporates the sounds of idols and friends R.E.M. (“Swallowed Whole”), Dead Kennedys (“Mind Your Manners”) and Neil Young (“Yellow Moon”) into the band's style. The result is Pearl Jam's best, most-cohesive album since “Yield” and a fitting bookend with “Ten” for the band's first 20 years.