Ocean's Kingdom, Paul McCartney's fifth full-length classical album in 20 years, is his first ballet, its story concerning a star-crossed romance between an earthly prince and a water princess. McCartney's music is appropriately romantic, sometimes to the extent that the moments intended to convey creeping tension or sadness bounce with a joyous gait. Joy isn’t a bad characteristic for a piece of music, and if Ocean's Kingdom is decidedly less ambitious than Liverpool Oratorio or Standing Stone, whatever charm it has lies in its simplicity, McCartney's good cheer evident in the clean lines of his melodies and their counterpoints, the lack of melancholy in his ballads, and the triumphant brass that closes the proceedings. Perhaps it is pastiche -- its reworking of themes and sounds befitting a narrative that’s essentially a respun Romeo and Juliet -- but Macca’s sweet swagger sells a shopworn story, at least as far as a record goes.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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