Echo and the Bunnymen
Well, this album was released back in October of 2009, but who cares, right? It’s music, it endures (one hopes), and whether a review hits the day of the album release or six months later, the album’s still out there to buy, download or steal in some form or other. Plus it’s a good bet that very few out there really knew this album existed anyway.
This is the band’s fifth post-reunion release, and they’re now paired down to original members Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant along with a couple session guys on bass and drums. The music on this current release still has the stamp of the Bunnymen of old-soaring, chiming guitar melodies, McCulloch’s brooding vocals (which don’t hit the crazy heights he used to ascend but still, occasionally, give you the feeling they might), and yearning lyrics about…well, whatever they might be about. Who knows at this point?
“Whatever you want,
Whatever you need,
Whatever you want,
Whatever you need…
I think I need it too”
he sings in lead off track ‘I Think I Need It Too.’ He could be singing about what someone’s soul desires to help them along the path of this tragic life, or he could be singing about what’s for breakfast; his bland vocals certainly don’t help distinguish any feelings, be they positive or negative.
And so the album goes. Songs meld in and out of each other, not really making much of an impression. ‘Forgotten Fields’ is probably the best track of the lot, its main guitar line lilting, singing, bringing a sense of life to otherwise drab proceedings. “Some think the moon might navigate life round” is something we all need to hear these days, and the questions linger while the guitars chime and dance.
Yet it’s all downhill from there, sadly. The songs fold into one another, banal lyrical questions (“Do you know who I am?”) pop up and sink into the mishmash, and occasionally the lovely guitar line pops up again. But at this point, it’s a bit of a lost cause. The passion and the spirit and the fire in the belly are absent from this release, and that’s a bit of a shame. If this album was released by some no-name band from some no-name town, it’d be hailed as an ‘instant classic’ (a ridiculous term if ever there was one), but the Bunnymen are competing against their 80s catalog here, which is arguably among the best of the best. It’s understandable that they’d have to sound like themselves and repeat themselves, both lyrically and musically, but if they’re only doing it to try to sound relevant, perhaps it’s time to pack it in.
As a fan of the Bunnymen from long back in the day, I really wanted to like this (and every) latter day release of theirs, but it’s going to fold in with Flowers and Siberia, their last two prior albums: Sitting on the shelf, pretty album art, nice colorful spine to blend in with the rest of them, but not really getting much playing time. If a good song pops up while iTunes is on shuffle, great, but it’s mostly a forgettable batch of songs that won’t hold up to the best of their inestimable canon.