Echo and the Bunnymen
Echo and the Bunnymen – Siberia
By Rikki O.
Ian McCulloch (vocals, guitar)
Will Sergeant (guitar)
Paul Fleming (keyboards)
Simon Finley (drums)
Peter Wilkinson (bass)
I was a wee infant when across the ocean in Liverpool a band was formed that would change the sound of melancholy forever. Exploding in the early 80’s with brooding hits like “The Cutter” and “Killing Moon”, they were cemented forever in 80’s nostalgia when John Hughes featured their song “Bring on the Dancing Horses” in the classic teen film Pretty in Pink.
After going through all the prerequisite band member changes and inner-band struggle, the group was presented with a real tragedy – the death of original drummer Pete de Freitas from a motorcycle accident in 1989. At that same time, singer Ian McCulloch left the band to work on a couple of solo projects and the remaining Echo and the Bunnymen released a cd in 1990 called Reverberation with a different lead singer. Fast forward past a number of forgettable solo albums to 1997, when the three remaining original members Pattinson, McCulloch and Sergeant began recording together again and released the critically lauded comeback cd, Evergreen.
For the 2005 release of Siberia, the band teamed up again with legendary producer Hugh Jones, who captured what can only be called their best work since their classic, band-defining album Ocean Rain. Ian McCulloch’s rich, smoky voice is as fine and cutting as ever; if he has left behind much of the howling and hysteria of his earlier years, it’s been replaced with the literate sounds of a seasoned wanderer. Will Sergeant’s sugar-tinged guitar playing is fresh and energetic; one listen to title track ‘Siberia’ or ‘Parthenon Drive’ shows that even with age, he remembers how to combine elegant playing with a tight style that other bands still try to emulate.
The true advantage that keeps Echo and the Bunnymen so passionately relevant are the darkly romantic and poet-laced lyrics. “Is this how the end begins?/Infra-reds and ultra-violets/No one there to mend your wings/flown by unconscious pilot” from the song ‘Of A Life’ is one such stand out line, but believe me - I could go on. It could be argued that the only real purpose of the current rhythm section is to provide a background canvas for Ian’s wordplay.
All in all, Siberia is worlds away from the cold, barren place that the title name invokes. Instead it is a vital, earnest statement affirming the legitimacy of life, still, after all this time.