Lindsey Buckingham’s really been through it all. In the past few years alone, he’s been fired from his band (Fleetwood Mac, no less), underwent emergency open heart surgery, dabbled with divorce and embarked on a solo tour – his first to touch the shores of Europe. It’s been a busy time.
He’s also finally put out his seventh solo record, tentatively titled – simply – Lindsey Buckingham. It’s an album he’s been meaning to put out for years, and finally, in this time of turbulence, he’s done it. Does it live up to all the hype, though? And where does it fare in the experimental, sometimes cerebral catalogue of LB? A catalogue that takes us through the synth-washed Go Insane, roaring riffs of Out of the Cradle and acoustic-led Under the Skin?
LB opens with ‘Scream’, and it’s a great little opener; a two-minute, poppy ode to nocturnal pleasure – showing that, even in his older age, Buckingham’s still got it. He gets to show off those vocals that have refused, time and time again, to burn out. It’s punctuated with all the jingles and touches of Go Insane‘s uncharted closer, ‘D.W. Suite’. Then we have ‘I Don’t Mind’, which sounds like something straight out of Seeds We Sow (a lot of this album does, actually). Its dreamy chorus and twinkling guitar accompany those high-pitched, background vocals that Buckingham so loves. The lyrics are dark, but that lovable melody carries the underlying dread like ‘Second Hand News” younger cousin.
‘On the Wrong Side’, is, undoubtedly, the album’s zenith. But then, I always liked the rockers. Its closing solo is incredibly ‘Countdown’-esque, and I adore it. The lyrics deal with his recent struggles – ‘Every now and then I fall/ Every now and then I rise’ – the themes of time and the conflict between dark and light. It’s sublime.
‘Swan Song’ is Seeds We Sow meets Tusk. It’s a strange one, and the lyrics are… unsubtle, to put it mildly – ‘It’s another fight/ As the queen dims the light’ – Even the faintest of Fleetwood Mac fans know the timeless rift between Nicks and Buckingham; exacerbated all the more after his abrupt firing from the group (Buckingham even likened her to Trump in a recent interview, regarding her authoratitive role in the band). ‘Swan Song’ is decent, but far from my favourite. Still, the guitar throughout is, as always, a testament to the guy’s strength. Lock Buckingham in an empty room with a Turner and he will always prove he’s in his element.
There’s something about ‘Blind Love’ that’s so familiar to me, though I can’t place precisely where I’ve heard it before. It fits in with basically anything from his 2000s era, and that’s not bad thing. ‘Time’, meanwhile, packs the airy scope of ‘Down On Rodeo’ or ‘Cast Away Dream’s (from 2006’s Under the Skin), floating above water with the childish tune of ‘Never Going Back Again’. ‘Some folks treat me mean/ Some treat me kind/ Most folks go their way/ Don’t pay me any mind‘ is a sorrowful reflection on how Buckingham feels during this tough time, but he couldn’t really be anymore wrong. We know Lindsey’s not out of the game yet.
If I’m not mistaken, ‘Blue Light’ was to be the name of this album for many years, and what a title it would have lived up to. It’s an upbeat anthem about never giving in to, well, the ‘house of blue light’, whatever that is exactly. I don’t kow either, but it makes for one of the ‘catchiest’ tracks on the record. ‘Power Down’ only continues the comparisons to SWS. If I’m being honest, it’s one of the album’s most forgettable, but still packs the Buckingham bells and whistles you’d expect.
‘Santa Rosa’, meanwhile, is one of the album’s highlights, with a simple, beautiful chorus. It’s a simple pop tune that lingers in the brain and remains on the tips of your fingers. Then, at ten songs long, the album closes with ‘Dancing’, a thoughtful finale. It’s little more than a whisper, but packs all the venom of a poisoned dagger. ‘Poor little raven/ How she’s lost her way/ Buys all she can/ But she can’t seem to pray’. Ouch. I feel for whoever this blade’s pointed at. No prizes for guessing who, though. It’s an interesting climax, but not the most intersting, musically.
Overall, I can’t honestly say that this is Buckingham’s best work. Or even one of his better albums. But, to be fair, he’s made some pretty gold-dusted records in the past. I prefer his 2021 venture to 1981 debut, Law & Order (an album I’ve never preached about, particularly) but sadly, it just pales in comparison to the untouchable Out of the Cradle, or even the likes of Gift of Screws. That said, it does have its fair share of lyrical breakthroughs, and catchy moments. It gives us an insight into the tortured mind of an artist who’s gone through so much, and refuses to let up.
It reminds me of Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie meets Seeds We Sow, and that formula still packs a dose of what you need. The cleaving solo of ‘On the Wrong Side’ or simplistic ‘Blue Light’, or ‘Scream’, are still some of the man’s best songs put to record. And I for one cannot wait to see what they sound like live. Because that’s where Buckingham really comes alive. It’s not an album that will win him any awards, but it’s still a Lindsey Buckingham album. And that’s worth a hell of a lot.