‘The Afterlife’ fuses African rhythms with buoyant percussion, spun around genius lyrical plays on the bureaucracy of death. Painting surrealist imagery of form-filling, lovelorn rejection and kicking time away at the pearly gates, this is Simon at his most experimental and sardonic, crafting a seamless pop gem for a new era of Paul Simon fans.
The standout track on the album comes from the poignant ‘Getting Ready For Christmas Day’. In a time when crass consumerism and troubled economies are clashing against each other, this song tells the story of a man struggling to provide everything his family needs: ‘I got money matters weighing me down; well, the music may be merry, but it’s only temporary.’ There’s an underlying sadness to it, but Simon doesn’t let that dominate against an enthusiastic and spirited melody.
‘So Beautiful Or So What’ stands as Simon’s purest and most consistent effort since the early 90s. It’s an album that portrays a man reflecting on his long life and realising there’s still a lot more fun to be had.