Review Summary: An 80's Post-Punk classic from Liverpool's second biggest band.
Echo and the Bunnymen seem to have a knack for picking out relatively brilliant cover art. While their major label debut, Echo and the Bunnymen
, may be nothing worth calling home about, all of its predecessors have had brilliant art. The warm colors of Crocodile
, the bleak beauty of Porcupine
, even their first compilation album, Songs to Learn and Sing
(first Jungler review, by the way), features an album cover as brilliant as the majority of the songs. Ocean Rain
, with its instantly recognizable ‘small boat in a big cave’ cover, is hardly any different.
And it’s hard to dispute the fact that the quality of Ocean Rain’s songs match up to that of its art. After all, Ocean did birth The Killing Moon
, quite possibly one of the greatest Post-Punk songs ever recorded, though most may only remember the track because Jake Gyllenhaal rides his bike to it. And I really haven’t the slightest idea why Echo and the Bunnymen aren’t as massively popular (or as legendary) as some of their contemporaries. Many of the tracks on Ocean Rain are perfect singles, capable of becoming huge hits as well as captivating any fan of Indie music. Crystal Days
and Seven Seas
, specifically, have about as much mainstream potential as anything ever released in the 1980’s (possible exception: a-ha’s Take On Me
Of all the seminal Goth/Post-Punk vocalists, Ian McCulloch may be my favorite. McCulloch is not nearly as monotone as [Joy Division frontman] Ian Curtis nor as flamboyant as Robert Smith, of The Cure fame, sounding more like a perfect balance between the two. His limited range (maybe not so limited, as he gets pretty damn high towards the end of Killing Moon) showcases more than enough emotion, working particularly well on songs like Nocturnal Me
, amidst dark, yet pronounced strings and the 80’s scene’s trademark chorus-tinged guitar tone. His voice is oddly confident and intense while switching notes during the chorus, a refrain of take me internally/forever yours/nocturnal me
, despite the lyrics themselves being far from confident.
Musically, Echo seem to have taken Joy Division’s (a band widely considered to be the first Post-Punk act) bass heavy, ultra dark format and brought it to the next step. The Bunnymen add some new instruments, make the general sound more guitar-heavy (a good thing, considering Will Sergeant, Bunnymen guitarist, is quite good at what he does) and, all in all, further the sound to a much more accessible, yet still far from cheery, place. Either way, Echo are undoubtedly birthed from the same scene and Ocean Rain could easily please any fan of Post-Punk’s other leading groups, from The Cure to Depeche Mode to The Smiths or even one of the new fangled Post-Punk revival bands (i.e. Interpol, Editors). This is, after all, a damn good album, that gets better with every listen.