Had Echo and the Bunnymen not split for six years in the 90s, they might today possess the same immortal status as Irish greats U2. With their psychedelic, New Wave tint, the prog-rock veterans have more or less endured the test of time despite multiple lineup changes. Since their inception in 1978, Echo and the Bunnymen have accrued 11 full-length albums and are due to release Meteorites, June 3rd in the States via 429 Records.
As the 12th installment of their 36 year journey, Meteorites will give the English band an average proficiency of one album per three years, not accounting for their six-year hiatus. Vocalist Ian McCulloch claims it’s the most introspective album to date, written entirely on bass guitar. The album features production and instrumentals by Killing Joke bassist Youth and maintains Echo and the Bunnymen’s return to their original practice of performing with a drum machine in lieu of a drummer.
The angsty youngest sibling, Meteorites casts a darker shade of grey on McCulloch’s childhood in Liverpool. At this point, neither his parents nor the Bunnymen’s listening demographic are terribly concerned about erratic thoughts and behaviour. They won’t respond terrifically to questions like, “Is This a Breakdown?” and Meteorites doesn’t expect them to; McCulloch wrote it for himself. He “[doesn’t] think so…. [he] know[s].”
Will Sergeant, the album’s sole Bunnyman (let’s be real, McCulloch’s the Echo here), acts as a support, providing Meteorites with characteristically Echo and the Bunnymen guitar where he can – such as the guitar turns in “Market Town”’s intro – to what would otherwise be an explorative solo album. The happiest moment occurs in the album’s final leg. It begins with “Explosions,” which grimly celebrates the “exploding sound” and imagines the “world falling down.”
“Get what you want now, get what you can; take what you want now, take what you can,” urges McCulloch. “I need to know where I belong.” Then, “Market Town” maintains the uplifting lilt, with an anthemic chant: “We’re survivors… we’ll be found.” Sassy na na nas ensue; with a little punch drunk silliness, this is Meteorites’s coming-of-age. The album concludes on a more sophisticated, forward-looking “New Horizons”, from which we can infer that McCulloch has gotten it all out of his system.
And he’s channeled it into a not-too-shabby art form at that.