Buckingham McVie started life as a new Fleetwood Mac album, following the iconic soft-rockers’ sell-out 2014-2015 world tour.
Alas, best laid plans were undone when singer Stevie Nicks declined to be involved — a wispy absence that removed from the equation a vital component of the band’s chemistry.
There are many circumstances in which Fleetwood Mac could soldier on — however, a Nicks-free incarnation is unthinkable.
Instead, die-hards must make do with a first-ever stand-alone collaboration between the group’s twin creative lynchpins.
On classic LPs such as Rumours and Tango in the Night, much of the dynamism sprang from the tension between Lindsey Buckingham’s growling West Coast rock and Christine McVie’s tart confessionals. Musically, they are a text-book case of opposites attracting.
Here, Buckingham is the senior partner. His husky croon is to the fore on ‘Sleeping Around The Corner’ and ‘Feel About You’ — retro-pop nuggets that, in the best sense, feel like superior Mac pastiche.
Somewhat of a grumpy old man even in his youth, in his late sixties Buckingham’s singing remains impressively anguished, with lyrics rich in autumnal ennui.
Stylistically, the album is an unashamed grab-bag. ‘Red Sun’ and ‘Love Is Here To Stay’ are free-floating power-pop, the principals’s voices interweaving swooningly; ‘Too Far Gone’ and ‘All For Free’, meanwhile, evoke the dusky splendours of McVie staples ‘Everywhere’ and ‘Little Lies’. Nobody does bittersweet better, or glossier, and the project confirms her gifts have not deserted her.
With Fleetwood Mac rhythm section Mick Fleetwood and John McVie pitching in, the record brims with Mac touchstones: the gauzy melodies, rush of blood choruses, sing-along fade-outs.
Conversely, without the band label affixed, the record is at liberty to establish its own identity and it revels in that freedom. This is a slight return in which fans of 1970s rock will want to lose themselves over and over.
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