The Fireman: Youth (at left) and Paul McCartney.
The Fireman: Youth (at left) and Paul McCartney. Ruth Ward
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When The Fireman released its debut album in 1993 — the instrumental dance and electronica mix Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest — the band's identity was a mystery. U.K. music magazine Melody Maker eventually exposed The Fireman as a duo featuring the bassist and producer known as Youth and, to everyone's surprise, Paul McCartney. Reviewers praised the collaboration as "staggeringly brilliant," but it was a strange and entirely unexpected direction for the former Beatle.
McCartney and Youth followed their debut five years later with Rushes, another instrumental album the two described as "ambient dreams in rainbow arches." But The Fireman fell silent for the next decade, as the two returned to their own projects.
Last year, McCartney and Youth returned to work as The Fireman for their third release together, Electric Arguments. Unlike the previous albums, The Fireman's new studio disc features vocals. McCartney entered the studio, without any material, and recorded 13 songs in 13 days. He played all the instruments, with Youth at the helm as producer. The Fireman offered the first single from the album, "Lifelong Passion," as a download from the band's Web site for anyone making a donation to the Adopt-A-Minefield charity.
Electric Arguments is sometimes bluesy and gritty, with McCartney howling against fuzzy guitars ("Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight"), sometimes delicate and beautiful ("Two Magpies") and sometimes lush and elegant ("Sing the Changes"). At times, the album veers off into entirely experimental directions, like the mash of ambient noises and sound effects on "Universal Here, Everlasting Now."
Electric Arguments will be released on Nov. 25 on ATO Records. In the meantime, the label and The Fireman are offering this free, exclusive preview of the entire album, as a stream.