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Echo & The Bunnymen - Meteorites (Album Review)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 Written by Graeme Marsh

There comes a time in almost every band’s career when they are no longer relevant. Echo & The Bunnymen, some 36 years after their formation in Liverpool, haven’t reached that point.

Ian McCulloch certainly believes that they are still at the peak of their powers. “At long last we’ve made the worthy successor to ‘Crocodiles’, ‘Heaven Up Here’, ‘Porcupine’ and ‘Ocean Rain’,” he recently said. “‘Meteorites’ is what Echo and the Bunnymen mean and are meant to be – up there in heaven – untouchable, celestial, beautiful and real.”

But it has to be said that, amid some deeply personal missives, ‘Meteorites’ features a considerable amount of lyrical repetition, a tactic that leaves some powerful musical statements wanting.

Despite those shortcomings, at times ‘Meteorites’ is exhilarating. “It’s so cold in Constantinople,” is the constant message of a song named after the ancient city, which weaves a hypnotic, majestic spell amid some atmospheric vocals. Ultimately, though, a better chorus would have served to complement Will Sargent’s wonderful guitar tones.

Many of the band’s classics are adorned with eerie atmospherics and an undercurrent of fierce emotion, and the title track opens the album in similar fashion. Strings provide tear jerking textures, before a euphoric burst raises hope among the sadness in what is an album highlight.

Is This A Breakdown comes off like a middle-aged singalong, posing the question of the title before answering repeatedly, in a neat lyrical quirk: “I don’t think so.” Holy Moses and Burn It Down, meanwhile, can’t quite be rescued from the doldrums by more exciting guitar work.

The album’s final three songs fit together nicely thanks to repeated messages. After Explosions comes a recurring declaration that “no survivors (will be found)” throughout the seven minute epic Market Town, which is perhaps the finest song on offer here.

Its winding, psychedelic guitar outro is up there with the best sections of music the band have ever produced, while album closer New Horizons completes the story in calm fashion with its titular chorus and promise of new beginnings after an apocalyptic storm.

While ‘Meteorites’ contains the raw power synonymous with much of Echo and The Bunnymen’s best work, the songs generally fall short of their highest standards. It’s a good album, and one that proves that the Bunnymen are indeed still a major force, but one to rival early classics? Be serious.

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