Echo & the Bunnymen

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Flowers Review

by MacKenzie Wilson

Still clinging to the post-punk snarl that made them cult favorites during the '80s, Echo and the Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant maintain a stunning inventiveness as they enter into the third decade of the band. They're older, but an ignited passion remains central. What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? was more or less a lackluster Ian McCulloch effort, but the mediocrity of that album was twisted into a clear beauty for Echo's ninth album, Flowers. After contractual battles with London Records, a deal with SpinArt contributed to the redefined structure of the band, and Flowers solidified McCulloch's and Sergeant's brotherly musical jaunt, reaching a respectable status. McCulloch isn't an angst-ridden punk -- he's aged with class -- and Sergeant's typically moody guitar work has mellowed. The alluring rawness of the band is intact, and songs such as "King of Kings" and "Hide & Seek" are playful cuts with reminiscent production work of 1983's musical prize, Ocean Rain. "It's Alright" rolls with layered guitars, and McCulloch experiments vocally for a rough-edged spiral of psychedelics and '60s pop flair. "Everybody Knows" and "An Eternity Turns" get back to basics, circa Crocodiles, and they are the most consistent set of songs on the new album. Ian McCulloch is at his finest with a lyrical clarity that is typically dark, intelligent and swaggering. Sergeant's rippling accompaniment is rightfully complimentary to define that Echo and the Bunnymen have stayed in tune to what makes them an effective unit. Flowers doesn't possess the initial fiery power of the band's first four albums, but the underlying concept that brought McCulloch and Sergeant together in 1978 is what matters, and this album holds true to such a bond.

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