The year is 2005. The popular music scene still sees U2 as one of the world’s biggest bands. Coldplay are big on the charts. There is a growing wave of post-punk-inspired younger bands coming out on the regular. Echo & the Bunnymen haven’t put out a record in four years. That would of course change with the release of ‘Siberia’. This record sounds quite a bit different than their previous record, ‘Flowers’, which was dominated by a psychedelic influence. This record is much more straightforward in its approach.
The opening track, “Stormy Weather”, is frankly one of the best songs in the Bunnymen’s entire catalog and starts the record off on a high, cheery note. This is interesting to note, because the Bunnymen have learned how to write these cheery kind of songs over the years. In their early career, especially the first two records, they were much more morose in tone than they seemed to be as the years would go by. Other tracks on the record, notably “Parthenon Drive” and “Of a Life” would also carry this vibe. This is contrasting with some of the other tracks on the record, which seem to be much closer to what Coldplay or the Killers would be releasing, namely “All Because of You Days” and “What If We Are?”. This contrast makes this record, as a whole, feel more like a collection of singles rather than a full-length record. Mind you, all of the songs mentioned above are quite good, as are some others on the record, but they just don’t feel connected. This is all the more disappointing when you consider the fact that all of their records since the 1997 comeback have had a running theme in either sound or subject matter (‘Evergreen’, ‘What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?’, ‘Flowers’.) Now, some of the songs on this record are just as good as any on the past three, but what sets the others slightly above this record is, again, the fact that they feel like full-length records.
Credit must be awarded where it is due. Once again on this record, Ian McCulloch has proven that he has an impeccable songwriting ability to match his mastery of the role as frontman for the Bunnymen. Mac definitely understands what it takes to be a super cool, enigmatic, mysterious rock n’ roll frontman. In fact, he probably understands this better than anybody from the post-punk era (outside of Nick Cave). His charisma alone is able to propel this record much further than it should be awarded. Of course, Mac’s partner-in-crime, Will Sergeant, is featured just enough to make an impact on this record. However, nothing he plays this time around is particularly groundbreaking or innovative, but it doesn’t have to be. Sergeant’s presence alone is enough to ensure that the guitar work on the record is in good hands and always, at the very least, serviceable. Mac and Will in good form, you definitely know that this is a Bunnymen record, which inherently lends it intrigue. This time around, they prove that even when they aren’t the most focused or disciplined, they’re able to produce a pretty good record. Which, naturally, is exactly what this is. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come close to the brilliance of its most recent predecessor.