Review Summary: An overrated comeback.
Ten years of desert followed in the wake Echo and the Bunnymen. Reverberations and Electrafixion Zephers sank into quicksand as Pete DeFreitas tragically disappeared in a plume of metal and oil. With tears cracked and dried and mouths full of sand, the remaining Bunnymen dragged themselves to the only oasis available. They reconvened at an Evergreen spot where they could once again pool their resources and drink like the eighties never died.
People rejoiced and celebrated their returning heroes. Big-hearted comeback single Nothing Lasts Forever swept into the UK top ten and the following Evergreen LP was lionized by critics. I myself was enamored with the record and it served as a very nice side order to the 90's trend of Britpop. But twenty years on and the promise has turned to rust. The water is all dried up, the trees lie bare and the supposedly evergreen has turned to brown. When devoid of trend or hype and stacked up against the band's superior work, this 1997 effort now sounds hopelessly overrated.
But before negativity barrels in and starts pummeling away, let's take a moment to indulge the classier aspects of Evergreen. Firstly, the album is a cohesive work that doesn't retread much of the band's past. A paycheck recycle of the greatest hits this is not. There is effort and intent here; this LP is fully formed and meticulously sculpted with the best moments soaked in refined maturity. Aforementioned single Nothing Lasts Forever is a bonafide Bunnymen classic, all swirling strings and deep lovelorn crooning. Just a Touch Away also does bittersweet balladry well and wouldn't have looked out of place on Ocean Rain. The pristine Britpop glide of I Want To Be There (When You Come) entertains with trendy abandon, whilst atmospheric album highlight Empire State Halo reminds us just how good post-punk used to be.
Unfortunately, the queasy seasickness of the inevitable pummeling must then begin. The main issue with Evergreen is that most of it's tracks are indistinct. 'In My Time' and 'I'll Fly Tonight' both do the mid-paced alt-rock thing decently enough. Alas, they also sound really similar to each other. Those appegiated riffs and stings mix in the memory and flood out the other side as blander swill. Likewise, any attempt to untangle the blustery stomp of Baseball Bill, Altamont or Too Young To Kneel is a futile exercise. The final nail of mediocrity is the legitimately awful closing track Forgiven. It tediously strums on and on and on and makes you question if some things DO actually last forever.
Evergreen ultimately has a handful of great tunes (last minute kudos to the savage riffs of the title track), but you'll have to wade through a swamp of relative boredom to find them. Still... Nothing Lasts Forever might just be worth it on a particularly damp day.