At this stage in his career, Paul McCartney owes the fans nothing. He’s a living legend and while every solo album hasn't been a home run, Egypt Station certainly is. I’d go as far as saying it’s the best album of 2018 and it is certainly one of McCartney's greatest releases, if not the greatest. I say this having listened to the album so many times that I’ve lost count. Seriously, I'm playing it daily and that generally doesn't happen unless it has that inexplicable special element.
Making it even more special is that exquisite cover art. Yes, dear reader, even in the age of streaming, killer artwork is essential. Without a doubt, the cover art alone demands a purchase on vinyl, especially the concertina sleeve edition. Sadly, a purchase will have to wait as I’m in the process of moving house and my beloved vinyl collection is already packed and ready to go. Being a lifelong renter, this isn’t my first move but my record collection is always the one thing that I ensure is packed before anything else. It has to be protected at all costs. I even move it myself, not trusting removalists to handle with care. Yes, I’m overprotective of my music collection, but if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll likely understand why it is so important to me. I do hope, your music collection, be it physical or digital is equally important. I’d be lost without music and I owe my sanity to artists like McCartney.
Despite not being able to listen to this masterpiece on vinyl, I have been enjoying it via the 24/96kHz MQA edition and 16/44.1kHz FLAC edition, both streamed from TIDAL Hi-Fi. The MQA edition has a slightly greater soundstage and depth than the CD-quality FLAC counterpart, but both sound absolutely exquisite. Similarly, streaming the Mastered for iTunes edition from Apple Music presents the album in slightly less fidelity than the aforementioned editions, but the magic is still there and the album sounds fantastic via my main stereo setup as well as via AirPods. Let’s just say that when an album is recorded, mixed, and mastered this well, there is very little difference between versions. Although, I really, really, can’t wait to hear just how good Egypt Station sounds on vinyl.
Opening Station is an ambient sonic introduction that sets up the concept album perfectly. Admittedly, it’s a little left of the centre, but it works and flows beautifully into I Don't Know.
I Don't Know is simply stunning. The musical elements are crystal clear with a slow rhythm that is nothing short of hypnotic. There is so much depth to be explored by the aural senses and the soundstage is well-defined and broad. Exceptional!
Come On To Me shifts the pace a little with a song that is rock focused. It's a great tune, with a pleasing composition that has an eclectic feel. Although, I feel this song, in particular, has been mastered a little too hot. A reduction of a few decibels would have been perfect in my opinion. That said, I’ve no doubt Come On To Me will be a stadium-filling song.
Happy With You shifts the album again to a more acoustic-based style. Truth-be-told, the style shift isn't that noticeable, when listening non-critically, as all songs flow nicely into each other. Happy With You is thoroughly enjoyable and really highlights McCartney's vocal capabilities that are simply astonishing for a man of his years.
Who Cares is an awesome rock and roll song with a fantastic message. I wish I had a song like this during my teenage years. Nevertheless, my sensitive soul has it now. Who Cares has a killer rhythm and in places reminds me of Crowded House‘s sonic signature. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I do enjoy the mystery behind subjective music correlations.
Fuh You is the only song on the album that doesn’t grab my attention. It’s campy and is over-produced with a mix that makes the drums sound flat. A style, perhaps, but not one that compels me. Thankfully, Fuh You only goes for 3 min 23 seconds! Okay, perhaps I'm over exaggerating. It isn't that bad, but it isn't great either. Although, the musical interlude about two-thirds of the way through the song is thoroughly enjoyable.
Confidante is another acoustic-based song that is simply beautiful.
People Want Peace is short but meaningful. People Want Peace had the potential to be campy, but it isn't. It's an interesting composition that has classic McCartney cues throughout. As I listen, I can’t help but feel that People Want Peace would have been a killer song for The Beatles.
Hand In Hand is absolutely stunning! One of McCartney's greatest songs.
Dominoes is a complex composition, yet my mind knows just how to connect with the song, ensuring involuntary movements as one dances or head-bops and toe-taps throughout the entire song. As I listen to Dominoes, I can't help but hear Julian Lennon's vocal style that’s prominent on his album Photograph Smile. Isn’t it interesting how one song can remind you of another artist?
Back In Brazil is my daughter's favourite song off the album. She enjoys singing and dancing to the song. While I enjoy the track, I don't have the same connection with it as my daughter does, but I'm glad to see that McCartney’s music will appeal to all ages, for various subjective reasons. That said, she wasn’t a McCartney fan before hearing Egypt Station, so here’s hoping this will be the beginning of a lifelong admiration for everything McCartney. My son is already there as he loves The Beatles, but his musical tastes closely follow mine whereas my daughter is far more subjective with her likes and dislikes.
Do It Now is absolutely gorgeous. This is music at its very best. It blows me away every time, it is that good!
Caesar Rock has a really interesting introduction. It’s different, but it works really well. I guess that could be said about the entire song.
Despite Repeated Warnings is one of the longest tracks on the album, at close to 7 minutes, yet it never becomes tiresome as the song is so layered and diverse. Sensational!
Station II seems somewhat superfluous, especially at this late stage in the album, however, it sets up Hunt You Down / Naked / C- Link perfectly.
Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link is hands down the best song on the album and one of the greatest songs McCartney has ever recorded. The cello tracking is amazing, ensuring the rhythm has the perfect backbeat to build itself on. Every time I listen to this last song, I feel compelled to listen to the album again. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that I’m glad to go through.
Egypt Station reminds me of the era when I used to collect cassettes and I would listen to them until they wore out. Listening to Egypt Station gives me that same level of satisfaction and perhaps it is a good thing that I don’t yet have the vinyl release for I would have worn that out too.
If my former self, the Mixtape Master, were in business today, he'd share this album with all his friends. It subsequently gives me great pleasure to share it with you and I truly hope you find as much pleasure with Egypt Station as I have. It’s an absolute masterpiece!
Click here to read other Paul McCartney reviews by Subjective Sounds.