It’s been a good fall for elder British pop gods. On the heels of resurgent releases by Elton John and Sting last month, Paul McCartney has swooped down as if from Olympus to bless us with his first album of original material since 2007. And after his 2012 collection of standards, Kisses on the Bottom, it sure is sweet to hear one of the greatest songwriters ever rocking these New tunes. Just check out the sparkling title track and you’ll hear McCartney, at 71, reinvigorated with a Beatles-esque bounce in his step. That exuberance extends to the rousing “Everybody Out There” and “I Can Bet,” with its soulful, sexy strut. Some cool producers—Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse), Paul Epworth (Adele) and Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon), as well as Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin)—are respectful of Sir Paul’s vibe while adding some fresh textures, making the old sound new again.
Ten has always been a good number for Pearl Jam: Their 1991 debut, Ten, was a multiplatinum beast. Now with their 10th studio disc, the grunge greats have made one of the year’s best rock records. It’s everything you want from a PJ album: earnest, furious, tender, transcendent. They even cut loose and have some fun on the hip-swerving “Let the Records Play.” Through it all, they remain fully committed to every note. “This is just too good to be gone,” declares Eddie Vedder on the heartbreaking closer “Future Days,” leaving no doubt that they’re here to stay.
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