Echo & The Bunnymen with further proof that they never stop
For an amazing 40 years, Echo & The Bunnymen have proved pivotal to the British rock music scene. The trials and tribulations of this band have been well documented, but they remain as important as ever. And to justify that, the band release their new album, The Stars, The Ocean & The Moon.
And it’s an album that covers that 40 year career, right up to the present day. And it’s always the old ones that are the best ones. And that couldn’t be more in evidence than the albums opener, Bring On The Dancing Horses. But this is reworked and brought right up to date, like all the songs are on the album, with band leaders, Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, and the current lineup of musicians who make up the rest of the band, bringing a fresh sound to one their finest records. The second cut of the album is the brand new song, The Somnambulist. And this will be a future Bunnymen classic, with McCulloch and his classic vocal style showing why he is one the premier vocalists of the last 50 years.
Nothing Lasts Forever is the third song in, and it’s crisp and subtle in a very laid back fashion. Dare I say that this version sounds better than the original? I’ll be so bold as to say it is. Lips Like Sugar is the fourth track and mixes the intensity of the 80’s original with a modern twist, and McCulloch doesn’t hold back on the chorus at all. To be fair, neither does Sergeant and his fellow band members taking you back all those years ago.
And then it’s back to where it all began with my personal favourite, Rescue. This reworking has a real synthesizer emphasis, and just a little bit of a slower pace but it still sounds as great as ever. Rust follows that, and is one of the best songs here. The brilliance of this band can be fully appreciated in this song, and once again McCulloch shines with the distinctive vocals. Angels & Devils keeps on that trend as well, as you do wonder how these songs would’ve gone down like this in their heyday. Pretty good to me is the answer.
Bedbugs & Ballyhoo is the mid way point song, and has the air of coolness that it had the first time around. This stripped down version certainly does it great service. Zimbo follows, and this is another one of the best songs on here. It’s haunting, yet compelling, and has a feel to it will make you listen to every note Sergeant plays and every word McCulloch sings. A perfect reworking.
Stars Are Stars is next up and maintains the coolness of this band and of the album. I use the word ‘coolness’ a lot because Echo & The Bunnymen have always been one of the coolest bands around, and songs like this don’t do that reputation no harm at all. The excellent Seven Seas is up next, and is just McCulloch and Sergeant doing their thing, with an accompanying accordion and strings in the background. It’s pure brilliance they way they have brought it to another level.
That brilliance continues with Ocean Rain. A song made for this album, it would’ve been a crime not to have put a reworked version of this on here. It sounds even better than ever, and will have you reaching for the 1984 original album just to compare the two. Their quintessential 80’s classic, The Cutter, follows that and McCulloch growls his way through this absolute belter of a rework. It’ll certainly take you back in time, as it certainly did with me when I listened to it.
The music goes bang up to date again with another new number, How Far?. “How far do you think we’ve come?” is the question asked by McCulloch. They’ve still plenty left in the tank if the new songs are to this high standard. The album closes with one of the best songs ever written, The Killing Moon. And this version HAS to be heard, it’s the most compelling version ever. Ian McCulloch sounds perfect, the piano and strings sound perfect. It’s just bloody perfect, full stop.
Echo & The Bunnymen don’t need to prove anything more to anybody else, they’ve done it so many times before and won. This album takes their classics and puts them in a higher standard than they’ve ever been before. And it’s a joyous recreation of their work. An essential purchase.
The Stars, The Ocean & The Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen is released on September 14th on all formats on the BMG Records label