The post-punk group don't disappoint with this truly beautiful exploration of their 40-year career.
Echo & The Bunnymen have recently returned with new album The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon, a 15-track reimagined compilation album, featuring ‘transformed’ versions of their biggest hits, as well as two brand new tracks.
The album opens with a reworking of the band’s 1985 hit, ‘Bring on the Dancing Horses’. The use of strings and piano gives this opening number a more sophisticated tone, setting the listener up for the feel of the whole album. More than a simple remastering of a popular single, it is clear from the beginning that this album is an ambitious retelling of Echo & The Bunnymen’s 40-year career.
As a whole, The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon comes across to the listener as a reflective record. Frontman Ian McCulloch’s vocals, which have inevitably changed over the years, do not disappoint. His voice is coarser than it was in the past, but this only serves to highlight the evolution of the band’s sound and develop each song to reflect this change.
But the album does more than just remind listeners of Echo & The Bunnymen’s greatest moments, with two new songs ‘The Somnambulist’ and ‘How Far?’. ‘The Somnambulist’ is a particular high point of the record, with its familiar sound and trademark lyrics so profound that they will stick in your head all day. ‘Well here it is then / Loneliness / Something’s not to fear then / Only this’ is a clear continuation of the band’s recognisably gloomy, yet beautiful style.
A real highlight of The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon is the re-imagined ‘Lips Like Sugar’. In this track, the band pair stripped down vocals with the musical complexity of the guitar, creating a fresh take on a classic song. Musically, ‘Lips Like Sugar’ represents the evolution of Echo & The Bunnymen and their commitment to improve on what was already revered in the music industry.
Of course, no review would complete without the mention of the album’s closing track, none other than ‘The Killing Moon’, Echo & the Bunnymen’s undisputed magnum opus. McCulloch was once quoted as describing it as ‘the greatest song ever written’. A bold claim, but one which is hard to argue with upon hearing the brand-new piano-fuelled version of the post-punk classic. The result is a hauntingly beautiful piece of music that can easily be played on repeat for hours. The perfect way to close the band’s first album in four years and leave listeners wanting more.
Whether you are an avid fan of Echo & The Bunnymen or you’re relatively new to the band, this album will please any listener. The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon is a deeply personal record following the band’s career as they revisit their greatest successes while considering their future. McCulloch sings in ‘How Far?’, ‘How far / Look how far we’ve come’, directly fulfilling the album’s purpose – to look back on Echo & the Bunnymen’s esteemed career, while showing musical progression, and a glimpse of what is to come.
The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon is available now via BMG,