June 30, 2014 Echo &The Bunnymen – Meteorites (Album review)
Formed in 1978 Liverpool, England’s Echo & The Bunnymen have become one of the most captivating classic alternative bands of all time. Breaking into the mainstream in the early 1980’s, the band helped pioneer a new wave scene bursting with inventive and talented musicians. Arguably their most successful album Ocean Rain (1984) helped bring the band to higher points internationally that still resonate three decades later. When in 1988 vocalist Ian McCulloch quit the band and in 1989 original drummer Pete de Freitas was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident, Echo & The Bunnymen held fast and moved on to the release of Reverberation (1990) with new vocalist Noel Burke. The band broke up three years later but reformed with McCulloch in 1997. Returning with McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant, bassist Les Pattinson back in the fold Echo & The Bunnymen were back for a new generation of fans. These days still featuring McCulloch and Sergeant, the band has remained relevant and active touring and releasing new albums consistently through the years. Now in 2014 the band release their twelfth studio album titled Meteorites. Featuring production, bass playing, and songwriting contribution of Killing Joke bassist, Martin “Youth” Glover, the record marks the longest gap Echo & The Bunnymen have gone between studio albums adding to much anticipation and excitement among longtime fans.
Opening with the sorrowful title track a sense of angst is felt vividly with McCulloch’s vocal delivery and acoustic guitar notes. Bursting into a chorus with full band and strings the song begs the question where can the album go from this climactic beginning. Picking up the mood immediately, single “Holy Moses” is an upbeat track with layered vocals, catchy lyrics, and thick guitar melodies. Looking to steer clear of monotonous structure “Constantinople” combines an up-tempo vibe with some dark guitar work similar to that of classic gothic rock. Mesmerizing, the song provokes the listener to want to dance around and lose themselves in the groove. Keeping the guitar driven approach consistent “Is This a Breakdown” takes multiple voices of McCulloch and puts them together as if the audience has been forced into the psyche of the singer with soundwaves coming from a variety of directions.
Lyrically honest and crafty McCulloch speaks about excessive indulgence in “Grapes Upon The Vine”. Self-reflective and emotionally drawn, the variety of inflections in his voice on the track tell a vivid story. On a slightly more lighthearted note “Lovers On the Run” features tingling guitar work by Sergeant and a memorable chorus sung by McCulloch’s. With its great pop sensibility choosing the track as the lead single off the record was clearly a wise choice. Backing into a somber tone “Burn It Down” blends the retro sound of Echo and The Bunnymen’s style with a modern feel on par with bands they have no doubt influenced such as Editors. Possessing a dreamlike shoegaze feeling “Explosions” echoes with warm bass, distant backing vocals, and metaphorical lyrics which can be depicted as a cry out against the atrocities of war.
Like an impassioned roller coaster the final approach of Meteorites once again rises high on the soundscape of “Market Town”. Perhaps the most musical track on the entire album a variety of sounds are intermingled throughout making for a trippy and exciting listening experience. Clocking in at over seven minutes it allows the listener to dig deep and decide for themselves their favorite tidbits of the track. The journey concludes with “New Horizons”. Fittingly placed as the closing track the positive, mellow and slower atmosphere leaves one feeling resolved and finding tranquility in the experiences of the prior songs.
Echo & The Bunnymen keep their approach honest and fresh with Meteorites. With a combination of wonderful production, musicianship, and lyricism each song is allowed to breath and shine bright. There is nothing outdated or rehashed about the writing on Meteorites and this could possibly be one of the band’s best records of their career. It is time new generations learn where their favorite alternative bands influences comes from and Meteorites is a righteous introduction. CrypticRock give this album 5 out of 5 stars.