The Beatles always amounted to far more than the sum of their individual parts, a point driven home every time a hopelessly flawed solo effort by either John, Paul, George, or Ringo hits the streets. And though Chaos & Creation in the Backyardrepresents Macca's strongest work since 1980's McCartney II, it's hardly enough to validate a career that has been mired in mediocrity since the dissolution of the Fab Four. At its best, Chaos evokes memories of the "White Album": "Jenny Wren" is a pretty acoustic ballad that recalls past hits like "Blackbird," minus the gorgeous hooks. But too much of the album plays like "Promise to You Girl," a rollicking number that has all the right ingredients -- sunny melodies, tight harmonies, and pleasantly familiar vocals -- but none of the vitality and freshness of McCartney's best work.
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