New music review:
Extended Play, Fleetwood Mac
By Bernard Perusse
The Montreal Gazette
It wasn't quite the blindside of David Bowie's sudden emergence in January with new music. Lindsey Buckingham had started the jungle telegraph with an announcement at Fleetwood Mac's April 6 concert in Philadelphia that the group would release an EP of new material "in a few days."
But the actual appearance of the music yesterday on iTunes still came as a surprise in an era when release dates are etched in stone and the hype machine gets going ages before the music surfaces.
Four tracks from the Mac - one of them a rediscovered oldie - is not the feat Bowie accomplished with 17 unheard songs. But it shares the same decade-long gestation period: this is the group's first fresh recording since the 2003 album Say You Will.
And it's a joyous 18 minutes.
Fans will read all sorts of meanings into the lyrics, which are hard not to connect with Buckingham's often-troubled relationship with Stevie Nicks. It is, after all, the backdrop for rock n' roll's longest-running soap opera.
"It's still evolving, and that's the beauty of it too. I've known Stevie since high school. We were a couple for many, many years, and we've been a musical couple forever," Buckingham said to Rolling Stone. "After all this time you would think there was nothing left to discover, nothing left to work out, no new chapters to be written. But that is not the case - there are new chapters to be written."
"I had a really good time working with him for four days at his house. I got to hang out with his family and his kids, his grown up kids, and really connect with him again. We're pretty proud of what we have done, and we're looking at it through the eyes of wisdom now, instead of through the eyes of jealousy and resentment and anger," Nicks told the same publication.
""Hello, hello sad angel, have you come to fight the war?" Buckingham and Nicks sing in harmony during the killer chorus of opening track Sad Angel, an uptempo, catchy pop-rocker written by Buckingham. In many ways, in fact, the entire EP sounds like a Buckingham solo release: strongly melodic, filled with dreamy hooks and neurotically self-aware.
Without You, which, tellingly, comes from the pre-Mac Buckingham-Nicks era, is the sole track penned by Nicks. It finds the two in a grizzled update of the Everly Brothers sound: over a gorgeous, crisp acoustic jangle, Nicks's rough nasality blends with Buckingham's high tenor in a celebration of where the two have brought each other. The perspective might be 40 years old, but it seems oddly poignant now.
It Takes Time, a stark, but sweet piano ballad, finds Buckingham's protagonist struggling to connect with his own feelings, while Miss Fantasy is quite the stunner: a sunshiny, bittersweet look back, with a chorus that evokes the Beach Boys. As Nicks comes in on harmony, the track soars higher than we could have hoped for.
No word yet on when, or even whether, a physical release will follow.