Paul McCartney 

Memory Almost Full

I was all set to gut this album like a flounder, at the ready with merciless "Let Him In"/"Silly Love Songs"-derived puns and derision. But Memory Almost Full is actually not bad at all. Of course, it's not all that exciting, either. For the most part, Memory is free of the twee fluff that blights most of McCartney's post-Band on the Run output, but alas, it is light on engaging, dynamic, memorable songs. Most of the album has a reflective, what-a-long-strange-trip-it's-been outlook, leaning toward the sulky, strident side of Grand Old Man "maturity" — imagine Billy Joel minus his corny sense of humor and you'll have a notion of how little fun Memory is. "Gratitude" finds McCartney melodramatically straining to get soulful: I should stop loving you/Think what you put me through/But I don't want to lock my heart away. I didn't mind such lyrics when Bread and Rod Stewart sang them in the 1970s, but now, especially for someone of Sir Paul's stature ... come on. The sole exceptions are "Vintage Clothes" and "That Was Me" — where the arrangements are bright, dexterous (note the Beach Boys-like ooh-oohs), and punchy as he sings with the wit and chutzpah he had on Abbey Road. Recommended for completists only.


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