It seems like Fleetwood Mac make some of their best music in periods of great volatility. Rumours, the band’s 1977 masterpiece, was written and recorded during a time when the band’s personal lives were in the toilet. The Mac’s latest release, the four song EP Extended Play, was recorded in another bout of uncertainty, with multiples recording projects being derailed by Stevie Nicks’s and Lindsey Buckingham’s solo careers. Like during Rumours, the band somehow remains at their most focused during a storm, and has produced an incredible record.
One of the best things about Extended Play is that it sounds like Fleetwood Mac. In an era where the music industry seems to be pressing for more homogenization, it is great to hear a band that sounds like themselves. The EP’s lead, and best, track “Sad Angel,” is a classic Mac song of the highest caliber, reminiscent of many of the tracks from the beginning of the Buckingham-Nicks era Mac. Buckingham’s vocals effortlessly blend with Nicks’s, showing the potency of this long partnership.
In fact, all four of the tracks on the EP fit seamlessly in the canon of the first few Buckingham-Nicks led Mac. Buckingham’s electric and acoustic guitars shine together, for an incredibly well blended, bright sound. John McVie’s bass flits between sweetly accentuating the melodies to pounding along with Mick Fleetwood’s steady, reliable drumming, showing the strength of the consistent core of the band. And, like many good Fleetwood Mac songs, love is at the forefront of these songs from the haunting Buckingham solo piano and voice track “It Takes Time,” to the pleasant day dream of “Miss Fantasy.” Despite none of the band members being romantically linked any more (Christine McVie left the band after divorcing John, and Buckingham and Nicks terminated their romantic relationship during the recording of Rumours) it seems that these old habits die hard.
In a musical culture where artists, consumers and producers keeping pushing for “the new,” it is refreshing to hear something so classic. Fleetwood Mac reasserts themselves as a still relevant and superstar band in 2013, and remind us why these bands are still around, and still kicking ass.
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