Features | Awards

The Madonna Award For Public Displays of Disgust with Ex-Partners

By Danny Roca | 20 December 2008

The Fireman
Electric Arguments
(ATO/Red; 2008)

Man, that woman got Macca baaaaaaaaaaad.

Under the banner of Paul McCartney it’s seemed he’s been scared to disrupt the thumbs-aloft happy-go-lucky laid back persona as there’s been seldom a harsh word said. He recognised this himself on Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (2005) on the rather beautiful “Riding to Vanity Fair.” Amidst Nigel Godrich’s morose atmospherics McCartney’s aged croak leant a certain regret to the lyric. “I bit my tongue, I never talked too much…I used the gentle touch, I’ve done it for so long.” Even on the post-Mills Memory Almost Full (2007) he only half-heartedly approached his overtly public seperation on “Gratitude” with a casually dismissive “I should stop loving you, think what you put me through” but couldn’t help following it with a characteristically positive slant “but I don’t want to lock my heart away.”

However, with his pseudonym the Fireman (his experimental partnering with ex-Killing Joke bassist Martin Glove aka Youth) he has vented a different creative output. Like Stephen King’s alter-ego Richard Bachman, the Fireman allowed McCartney to show a darker more rumative side to his compositions which expounded like dark blooming roses of ambient washes. Whilst supposedly a secret outing, everyone kinda knew Macca was the Fireman and, despite living in a soundworld that could live with Leaf signings like Asa-Chung & Jun Ray, was ignored as indulgent folly. On this year’s Electric Arguments all bets were off. Vocals were introduced, melody came to the fore and, in dramatic contrast to his mainstream releases, McCartney grew a pair. The album is bulging with Zep guitars, psychedelic surges and a ten minute bliss out that could outfox Animal Collective. However, it was in the bluesy lead single that Macca finally made his feelings on the whole Mills affair known. Backed by a wall of cocksure guitars and unleashing his gritty voice from “Helter Skelter” Macca spews his distaste on “Nothing Too Much, Just Out Of Sight.” “The last thing you do was to try and betray me” (POW!); “I made you” (BIFF!); “And you have money” (KERCHING!).

Electric Arguments is not really a Fireman album as it bares no resemblance to the previous two ambient murmurs. It should be seen in the same light as his first solo albums McCartney (1970) and Ram (1971). Personal, intimate expressions of his psyche too tuneful to keep from the public.