Review: Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie's Strange, Surprising Collaboration

Our take on the unexpected full-length team-up between the two Fleetwood Mac songwriters

Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac are teaming for their first collabo LP.

Well, here's an album nobody thought would happen – the first-ever collabo from Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie. It's full of surprises, considering we've all spent years already listening in on both their private worlds. But these two Fleetwood Mac legends have their own kinky chemistry. When McVie jumped back in the game for the Mac's last tour, the songbird regained her hunger to write. And Buckingham remains one of the all-time great rock & roll crackpots, from his obsessively precise guitar to his seething vocals. They bring out something impressively nasty in each other, trading off songs in the mode of 1982's Mirage – California sunshine on the surface, but with a heart of darkness.

So we've made it to the second paragraph of this review without mentioning any other members of Fleetwood Mac. That's an achievement, right? We should feel good about that. So now let's discuss how weird it feels that a certain pair of platform boots was not twirling on the studio floor while this album was being made. Stevie Nicks is the unspoken presence on this album, the lightning you can hear not striking. There's something strange about hearing Lindsey and Christine team up without her, but that just enhances the album's strange impact. This would have been the next Mac album, except Stevie didn't want in. It sounds like that might have fired up her Mac-mates' competitive edge – but for whatever reason, these are the toughest songs Buckingham or McVie have sung in years.

"In My World" is the treasure here – Lindsey digs into his favorite topic, demented love, murmuring a thorny melody and reprising the male/female sex grunts from "Big Love." In gems like "Sleeping Around the Corner" and the finger-picking "Love Is Here to Stay," he's on top of his game, with all the negative mojo he displayed in Tusk or his solo classic Go Insane. McVie is usually the optimistic one, but she seizes the opportunity to go dark in "Red Sun." And what a rhythm section – Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, cooking up the instantly recognizable groove no other band has found a way to duplicate. Everything about this album is a little off-kilter, right down to the way the title echoes the pre-Mac Buckingham Nicks. But if this had turned out to be a proper Fleetwood Mac reunion album, that would've felt like a happy ending – and who wants happy endings from these guys? Instead, it's another memorable chapter in rock's longest-running soap opera, with both Lindsey and Christine thriving on the dysfunctional vibes.