Aligning with an obnoxiously ubiquitous coffee-shop chain isn't hip, but it's definitely not the act of an artist resting on his laurels. By signing with Starbucks' new Hear Music label, Paul McCartney has ensured that more people will hear his new album, Memory Almost Full, than heard recent efforts like Flaming Pie, Driving Rain, and 2005's Chaos And Creation In The Backyard combined. Even better, Memory Almost Full is actually worth hearing after you pay for your tall café au lait.
Post-Abbey Road, McCartney has been better at writing insanely catchy fragments than full-fledged songs, and he hasn't changed his ways for Memory Almost Full. In fact, the disc's second half is an Abbey Road-like suite fleshed out with grandiose string parts, multi-tracked vocals, and other ingenious production touches. Like the rest of Memory Almost Full, it's an eccentric triumph. The gritty "Gratitude" sounds like "Oh! Darling" with a Queen makeover, while "Feet In The Clouds" and "House Of Wax" are some of the most sweeping pop songs of McCartney's solo career. Guess this means caffeinated Macca isn't so bad after all.