Echo & the Bunnymen

What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?

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Echo & the Bunnymen made a dignified return in 1997 with Evergreen, but that record displayed some hints of rustiness and a desire to stay hip -- two things notably absent from its superb sequel, What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? Trimmed to just the duo of Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, Echo has succeeded where many of their peers have failed -- they have matured without getting stodgy, they have deepened their signature sound without appearing self-conscious. Indeed, What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? feels of a piece with their earlier albums, not only sonically, but in terms of quality. Clocking in at just 38 minutes, the record is concise and dense with detail, finding the precise tone between the floating grandeur of early Echo and the timeless romanticism of classic torch songs. It's melancholy without ever being self-pitying and it never once sounds gloomy or depressing. The key is that McCulloch and Sergeant never push too hard. They never force themselves to play up-tempo, nor do they try to recapture their "edge" -- they settle into a sad groove and find all the possible variations in the sound, both sonically and emotionally. The perfect thing is, this is exactly the kind of record a post-punk band should be making as they reach their 20th anniversary -- it speaks to where they are now, and it speaks to their aging fans.

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