Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: echo and & bunnymen, ian mcculloch, post-punk, Releases of the Week, The Fountain, U2
PREVIEW: VISIT Echo & The Bunnymen’s Website
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts
Post-punk masterminds Echo & The Bunnymen are launching their first studio album in almost four years, but The Fountain leaves much to be desired. More recently, the group has fallen into a generic alternative rock groove, and their eleventh studio release stumbles to the same beat. Lead singer Ian McCulloch leads the band efficiently though, with each track sounding tight and cohesive. Innovation-wise, however, The Fountain settles for mediocrity.
Amidst an album filled with throwaways, The Fountain does manage a few standout tracks. “Life of 1000 Crimes” harkens back to the band’s genre-bending days. The nostalgic sound is buried deep in the album’s track list, yet stands as a glowing gem to the band’s glory days. “Proxy” also hints at post-punk roots. Vocally and instrumentally, both songs give a nod to Echo & The Bunnymen’s 1987 self-titled release.
However, The Fountain maintains a constant tone similar to that of an early U2 cover band. Slower ballads move at a tired pace and simply fade into oblivion, while up-tempo songs sound gimmicky and depleted of energy. “Think I Need It Too” opens the album, but makes no convincing invitation for listeners to stick around. Mildly creative lyrics bound with lackluster instrumental ingenuity define The Fountain from start to finish.
While bands should be free (and encouraged) to explore new genres and expand upon their original sound, the evolution should undoubtedly be in a positive direction. Pure and simple, The Fountain lacks effort. Upon further exploring alternative rock, Ian McCulloch himself doesn’t sound convinced that his band has moved into the genre. Echo & The Bunnymen should be reinventing their sound in a modern genre, yet they barely step out of their comfort zone on The Fountain.
Echo & The Bunnymen stray from their roots on The Fountain, but come away with very little to show for the adventure into alternative rock. Hopefully the band’s next meeting will include a thorough re-evaluation of what it means to be one of the founding members of post-punk.
— Chris Parker