For an artist like Paul McCartney — a legend, a legacy and damn near a God — the dilemma of remaining current has always been double-edged. On the one hand, an artist of 71 years will inevitably run the risk of being left behind as musical culture moves forward, and releasing backward-looking old-timey collections like Kisses on the Bottom isn’t doing anything to refute that notion. But McCartney has another thing going for him — he’s one of the most successful and recognizable artists in the world, and regardless of what kind of music he makes, he’ll always have a built-in audience and a pretty massive one at that.
As Macca sings “We can do what we want, we can live how we choose” on new track “New,” he certainly reinforces that notion of not giving much of a thought to outside perception. But the thing about Sir Paul is that he isn’t just a successful musician, he’s a savvy businessman, and taking steps like working with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich in the last decade certainly give an indication that staying relevant is still a crucial part of who he is as an artist. Working with producer Mark Ronson, McCartney takes another step to remain a part of the conversation rather than simply collect a check, and the resulting new song, “New,” is one of the best he’s released in a long time. Part of it is the fact that it, frankly, sounds a lot like The Beatles, a characteristic that few Macca fans will find fault with. But put more simply, it’s just a really fun pop song, bouncy and bright, with a fresh batch of hooks. It sounds carefree and effortless, which, if you look at his career on the whole, has always been the most attractive quality in a McCartney song from the beginning.