echo and the bunnymen

What the Bunnymen ‘mean and are meant to be – up there in heaven, untouchable, celestial, beautiful and real’. So says Mac from Echo and the Bunnymen commenting upon the bands imminent full length ’meteorites’. it has been a long, long while since the prospect of a new Bunnymen platter struck an expectant skip of the hearts beat. I’ll admit I’m in a state of quandary here, the reason being that we’ve just been sent a link to a sneak preview of a track from that aforementioned and forthcoming Bunnymen album ’meteorites’ due via 429 records early June. You might think so what. What’s your problem. Problem is that once upon a time this lot used to mean so much to me, could do no wrong, did no wrong. They were the coolest band on the planet (and while that might put St Julian’s nose out of joint – it’s a fact). Take their first two albums (at a squeeze trim bits of ’Porcupine’ and a smidgeon of ’Ocean Rain’ – and include them as well) as far as I’m concerned the most formidable opening salvo of full lengths we’ve not heard bettered since, ’heaven up here’ alone would, if most bands would care to admit, have them happily retiring on the spot to live on its legend where it theirs, a ridiculously oft overlooked album and something which given the current fascination for late 70’s / early 80’s sounds is very telling, relevant and still so ahead of the curve in terms of documenting the mood, the atmosphere and the alienation of living not only in a Northern city in 80/81 but generally just existing. So how do I objectively critique a band who once walked on water, have in the years since disappointed more often than they’ve dared to shimmer (if we are really being honest here perhaps only ‘flowers‘ and the more psych aggressive ‘reverberation‘ hinted at former greatness), forget the Smiths, Simple Minds and U2 – the unholy trinity who piece by piece stole a march on the Bunnies in that 82 – 84 period wherein the band took its eye off the ball for just a second and slowly let it all slip away. The years roll on, stuff changes yet you feel the Bunnymen have stayed still looking for the ball they took their eye off, endless tours to pay off mortgages and to fatten their pension pots – is this just going through the motions. And so to ’market town’ – the as advertised sneak preview from the aforementioned ‘meteorites’ – described in some channels as a 7 minute epic anthem, we’d restricted ourselves to hearing this twice, one because we didn’t want to prejudice matters and in so doing giving it a fair fight with everything else we review here and secondly because our laptop is having some type of siesta ore is that seizure and is refusing to play, a matter that is irking me so much that I suspect before the days out it’ll be visited upon by all manner of hammers, screwdrivers and chisels.
At worst it’s the Bunnymen by numbers and on auto pilot tapping into the same lay lines that pollinated the grooves of 2001’s ‘flowers’ and ‘nothing lasts forever’ before it, fluent in poppified aspects, for the first two minutes you’d been forgiven for thinking that this was just trademark blindfold Bunnymen in which case your answer to the posed question for discussion above would sadly be in the affirmative. But then there’s the appearance of a subtle sea change at 2.44 wherein the track begins to loosen up with Mac’s vocals actually acquiring something of a playfully funky aura and with it the delicate shift into sonic territories more commonly applied to the likes of Slipstream, paris angels or Fuxa dissipating further at the 4.32 mark where up steps Will to the plate with some nifty kaleidoscopic mosaics. From this point on all is woozy, trippy and fuzzy with the looping lysergic wah wah’s creating bliss kissed mushroom clouds to sound like nothing we’ve heard here since My Jealous God dropkicked the post acid psychedelic party pack ‘everything about you’ our way. So 30 years on and they still beat listening to the latest Morrissey woes, Simple Minds and God’s army even if they are on a simmer setting the only difference being the moods are lighter, so to the atmospherics, still Northern and life – well maybe, just maybe – a little more tolerable knowing ‘meteorites‘ is looming out there on the horizon.

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