Ian McCulloch

Slideling

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In between the 1988 demise and resurrection of Echo & the Bunnymen in 1997, frontman Ian McCulloch made an earnest attempt at a solo career. Candleland was a somber effort rooted in classic Bunnymen design, whereas Mysterio went for an over-styled synth-driven sound. When it came time to get back to his own work, McCulloch didn't go for a grandiose production. He turned 40, released two guitar-oriented Bunnymen albums by the time the new millennium was underway, and obviously felt good about where he stood as an artist. Slideling is evident of that and a pleasant look at McCulloch's confident, comfortable stance in music after 20-some years in the business. Instead of moving away from what's currently hip on an indie level, McCulloch embraces it. He and Cenzo Townsend, who worked on the Bunnymen's 1997 comeback album, Evergreen, combine simple acoustic guitars with cello/violin arrangements without losing the power of each track. From the warm resilience of "Love in Veins" to "Baby Hold On"'s sultry Motown appeal, McCulloch readies his most personal lyrics to date. Coldplay's Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland add wispy backing vocals and a classy guitar/piano mix on the gray dawn of "Arthur" and "Sliding." McCulloch's half-light trip continues on "Playgrounds and City Parks," an homage to his working-class upbringing in Liverpool. Slideling isn't a dark album. It's honest and raw in the sense that McCulloch is cool with where he's from and unconcerned with where he's headed. Slideling has no need for the sucker punch found in early Bunnymen classics like "All That Jazz" and "The Cutter." It's a great forward march for Ian McCulloch the songwriter, poet, artist, and father.

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