Rolling Stone - No. 983, p.1014 out of 5 stars
- "...[T]he freshest-sounding McCartney album in years...."
Entertainment Weekly - No. 840, p.84
"...[W]hat we're hearing is an artist honestly following his muse..." - Grade: B
Uncut - p.944 stars out of 5
- "[With] richly layered song patterns that meander with deceptively aimless purpose from beginning to end, often sounding as though they're coalescing on the spot..."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.983 stars out of 5
- "'How Kind Of You' and 'Vanity Fair' cleverly pit Macca's perma-optimistic lilt against mournful, downbeat tapestries."
Recording information: Air Studios, London; Ocean Way Recording, LA; RAK Studios, London.
That 2005's CHAOS & CREATION IN THE BACKYARD arrived as a dramatic return to form for Paul McCartney is something of an oversimplification. The fact is, dodgy orchestral and electronic side projects aside, solo Macca's only true fallow period was the mid-'80s, and the three albums prior to CHAOS were all solid, not un-Beatlesque affairs. That said, it's impossible to deny that this is one of Paul's finest post-Wings releases. He mines Fabs-friendly melodies and arrangements unabashedly (occasionally with tongue firmly in cheek), and who better to do so?
Part of the reason for the album's resonance is the presence of Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, the first man since George Martin with the gall to make McCartney work for his money. (Paul's basically a one-man band throughout, for the first time since McCARTNEY II.) A deeper reason lies in the obvious emotional depths McCartney plumbs, leaving his trademark happy-face/Silly Love Songs persona far behind and betraying an unprecedented level of melancholy and introspection. Revisionists who claim the spirit of the Beatles died with Mark David Chapman's bullet in 1980 should only wish that, had John Lennon lived, he'd still be making music as aesthetically relevant as this 25 years down the line.