Paul McCartney’s New Song Sounds Like the Beatles

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 29 2013 10:49 AM

Paul McCartney’s New Song Sounds Like the Beatles

Paul McCartney performs in Brooklyn in June
Paul McCartney performs in Brooklyn in June

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Paul McCartney’s catchy new song is called “New,” but its sound is mostly old. Of course, considering old for Paul McCartney means the Beatles, that’s not a bad thing. Produced by Mark Ronson—who’s no stranger to ’60s sounds himself (he made his name producing Amy Winehouse)—“New” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Revolver or Sgt. Pepper’s.

Over a steady beat on the keys reminiscent of “Penny Lane” or “With a Little Help From My Friends,” McCartney sings the kind of melody only he could have written: Both surprising and immediately familiar, with great vertical leaps. Soon he’s joined by thick harmonies and some horns, before taking a turn into vocal percussion (itself an old trick of McCartney’s) and barbershop-quartet-style a cappella at the end.

“New” is the first single off Macca’s first new album of all-new solo material since 2007’s Memory Almost Full. (Last year’s Kisses on the Bottom was mostly covers.) It’s also called New, and will be out on our side of the pond on Oct. 15. In addition to Ronson, he’ll be working with producers Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon) and Paul Epworth (Adele), plus Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin. Here’s hoping all those collaborations are this successful.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. Email him at Forrest.Wickman@slate.com.