I wouldn’t be confident in saying that the eighties was the greatest decade in the history of decades. It’s probably because I wasn’t born until 1985, but that’s beside the point. The real point is that those too young to experience the hippie generation and too old to experience grunge rock listened to whatever was good in the eighties; ranging from the ever-changing Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, to the synthesizer sounds of New Order, Depeche Mode and Echo & the Bunnymen, these artists fit equally into both the experimental and the popular. The real question for Echo & the Bunnymen is however, do they still have it?
With their new album Siberia, this moody outfit is looking for more than really bad haircuts and spandex shorts. Many may call members Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant a little too old to be making more rock n’ roll, but who is going to stop a couple of old fogies from reliving their glory days? The trend of returning eighties favorites is already in high gear with the likes Depeche Mode and New Order, so maybe McCulloch and Sergeant find it in their best interest to release another album.
For those who did not listen to Echo & the Bunnymen in the eighties, I am on the same page. I came across the band in 1999 when I was at the awkward stage between finding what I like to listen to and what I should be forbidden to listen to. So I may have listened to a couple of Backstreet Boys songs and danced to Spice Girls on MTV, but the Bunnymen have stayed with me since then.
Siberia transcends the stereotypical sounds of most reuniting bands. The album carries the same melancholy sound it carried when the band released its music in the past. The guitar plays with a certain My Bloody Valentine feel about it as the melodic voice of tortured soul McCulloch belts the poems of a rock legend. While listening to “In the Margins,” these qualities of psychedelic guitar mixed with somber lyrics really do show their true colors. On the other hand, with the push of the forward button, there is a completely different sound all together.
“Of a Life,” represents the less depressing side of this duo. Guitarist Sergeant shows off his musical skills not with axe grinding guitar solos or hair band flying-vs, but the simplicity of how a guitar sounds and feels when it takes a break from all that heavy metal. McCulloch’s consistent voice entraps the mind with a feeling that there is probably more to life than just the one we’re living. Repeating the lyric “of a life requited,” the theme sends through the air exactly how Echo & the Bunnymen will make a comeback. They will take no prisoners and hopefully most will be willing to follow- they’ve got me following.
So, not every eighties band reunion can be considered a mistake. Echo & the Bunnymen definitely had the right idea and not only rekindled the love of their fans from the past, but they’ve got listeners from the nineties and the 21st century hopping along for the ride.
(Cooking Vinyl Records)