Not at all. I dont compare any of his albums to his earlier stuff. Thats kind of silly isnt it? I dont think anybody expects him to do a 'Band On The Run' everytime he releases an album. I listen to the album and decide if I like it or not. If I do,,,,great. If I dont,,,,oh well. I didnt like NEW. Its one of his most forgettable albums in my opinion with no really strong songs to speak of. I'm only speaking for myself though.
I seem to be coming at this one from entirely the opposite direction. For a start I find it impossible not to compare any album by a former fab with the rest of his output. For me, each of those four lads released - however intermittently - a series of chapters in an evolving continuum of work. I can assess an album on its own standalone merits but I can't regard it as completely isolated.
Obviously there are peaks and troughs along the way, but after the miserable "Driving Rain", the warbly, depressingly timid vulnerability of "Chaos And Creation In The Back Yard" (neither album at all strong on the melody front by and large) or even the catchier and more uplifting "Memory Almost Full", "NEW" is like a blaze of sunlight for me. At least half the tracks are instantly melodic...after the first listen, how could anyone not tap their foot to "Alligator" or "I Can Bet"? The feisty catchiness of the album opener "Save Us" and bouncy, anthemic singalongs like "Everybody Out There" and "Queenie Eye" would make this a strong, highly accessible radio-friendly collection even without the superbly infectious title track itself, with its Beatley "Penny Lane" vibe which is a joy to behold. Sure there are clunkers on there: "Early Days", "Hosanna" and "Road" are hardly earworms for example but hey, they aren't so
bad! By contrast I have to go back to the discs every time just to recall most of the tunes from Paul's previous three or four albums, which I'd regard as much more forgettable than this one.
On a purely selfish level, were I to be given the levers of power over Paul's future career I would have him abandon live tours (his voice is a shadow of what it once was) and jettison the orchestral material, the retrospective/standards and the electronic stuff in favour of concentrating on occasional (no longer any need to try and rush one out every year) polished studio releases like this one.
All just my opinion of course!