Echo & the Bunnymen's latter-day career has become a classic example of the old "live by the sword, die by the sword" adage. If an album like The Fountain was released by a band with no history, or one with an unexceptional track record, it would likely be deemed a promising effort. But the Bunnymen blazed a burning path through the '80s, turning out some of the era's most original, unforgettable sonic statements, a looming legacy that gives them a lot to live up to. The Fountain is the fifth album the band has released since their '90s reunion, and there have been consistently diminishing returns from 1997's Evergreen on out. There's nothing overtly unpleasant on The Fountain, and it's not without its high points, either, like the Jesus & Mary Chain-ish "Proxy" with its sunny '60s pop melodies and churning guitars, the lambent, Richard Hawley-gone-poetic ballad "The Idolness of Gods," or the driving, direct stomp of "Do You Know Who I Am." The trouble is, even these songs seem to have had their edges sanded off -- all the creepiness, grandeur, and left-field eccentricity that made the band's '80s albums classic has been replaced by a play-it-as-it-lays feel that puts the Bunnymen more on a par with the Brit-poppers they've influenced than anything else. Maybe it would be easier to give The Fountain the benefit of the doubt if it hadn't been preceded by four similar efforts, or if singer Ian McCulloch hadn't spent the band's entire career unabashedly proclaiming their genius and preeminence in the rock world, but that's a lot of "if" to work with.
AllMusic Review by J. Allen