(As published in New Zealand's Real Groove ... )
Echo & the Bunnymen
It's been a long time since Ian McCulloch and Co. posed for a poorly illuminated album-cover photo, the very nocturnal shadowiness of which connoted mystery, secrets, and a vampirical fear of a tan. Still, the Los Angeles Times' Robert Hilburn detects "a delightful summer pop-rock breeze" blowing through "I Want to Be There (When You Come)"--McCulloch's answer to "She Bop" and "I Touch Myself," obviously--so can a tan be far behind? Why, the title of "Baseball Bill" alone signals American bleacher-bum pretensions unprecedented in a Brit, even if the song, apparently, is about a murderer. And speaking of America and murder, McCulloch calls the next song "Altamont," a not-so-veiled threat to release a song called "The Who's Cincinnati Concert" in 2007. So if shadowiness, summer breezes, America, and murder--oh, and navel-gazing, mustn't forget the navel-gazing--aren't your cup of tea, you may want to pass on this. If, however, you can enjoy anything as long as it's sung by a brooder whose Bono-isms are in palpable decline and set to melancholy melodies as only the London Metropolitan Orchestra can play them, you'll find plenty here to enjoy. And Will Sergeant's guitar parts twinkle like stars.