I was lucky enough to receive Paul McCartney's new album Memory Almost Full for Christmas. "Dance Tonight" is a wonderful song. The gentle acoustic of a mandolin sounds so fresh and original in any contemporary music and is nicely offset by the beat of stamping feet, a beat equally novel and highly appropriate. It's a deceptively simple song from an artist who excels at deceptively simple songs. The instrumentation grows more modern (read, electric) as the song progresses, as if following the history of dance music. "Ever Present Past" is a fast-paced rocker with soft vocals; a pleasant number with one of those deceptively simple refrains that stays in your head because of the melody. "See Your Sunshine" is one of those songs that sneaks up on you. Unimpressed with it at first, I recently found a melody stuck in my head and tracked it back down to this song. The background vocals, at first annoying, are now equally catchy to me. "Only Mama Knows" is a gorgeous, bittersweet song and the deepest on the album. McCartney howling "I never knew!" is moving. The violins at beginning and end recall some of his violin-laced classics from his Beatles' days.
But from there the album quickly goes downhill. "You Tell Me" and "Mr. Bellamy" are utterly forgettable. "Gratitude" is best at its ending, with its refrain of "loving you," but instead of deceptively simple achieves only simple. "Vintage Clothes" is pretty forgettable, but "That Was Me" is back up to "Ever Present Past"'s standard. "Feet in the Clouds," "House of Wax," "End of the End," and "Nod Your Head," get louder and more raucous, but ultimately go nowhere and end the album on a loud, raucous whimper.
It is nearly as strong an album as Flaming Pie merely by the strength of the first four songs.