The press release has singer Ian McCulloch saying this album is "more edgy than anything I’ve ever done". Is that true?
Well yeah, sort of. It’s certainly more edgy than Ian’s collaboration with The Spice Girls for the 1998 World Cup song. But what he’s actually talking about is his lyrics. As anyone who enjoyed the Bunnymen’s classic early 80s albums will tell you, Mac’s lyrics were always a bit obtuse. It was part of the band’s appeal and on stage he’d go even further and start channelling Jim Morrison doing beat poetry. Here though, you don’t need to know all that much to interpret most of the lyrics. They’re shrouded and twisted but it’s autobiographical and — if we were to wager a guess — a bit of an apology to his loved ones in places. And his voice still sounds ace and velvety despite the years he’s dedicated to tobacco. A bit of dry ice and you could be back in 1984. Well, 1994.
OK, we can live with that, but what’s it sound like?
Pretty good actually. There’s plenty of killer tunes – Holly Moses and Lovers On The Run are the classic big chorus tracks in the vein of Bring On The Dancing Horses, while Is This A Breakdown is almost a 60s pop tune, albeit in a Bunnymen style.
What about guitarist Will Sergeant? Is he still in the band?
Sort of. He’s got another project now - Poltergeist with ex-Bunnymen bass player Les Pattison – and it’s uncertain how involved he is in the band these days, but he added his trademark shimmering guitar work to a few tracks after the album was finished. You can hear him most on Market Town and Constantinople, where he makes that incredible Eastern sound that was such a strong element of so many of the band’s greatest moments. It helps make it a Bunnymen album rather than an Ian Mac solo album – but it’s got lots of other ingredients you’d expect from the Bunnymen, like little orchestral arrangements (epic ballad Burn It Down) as well as the whole geographic imagery thing.
Oceans, mountains, skies, space, horizons – all the great Bunnymen albums conjure up big nature and this is no exception. But having said that, there’s quite a lot of Liverpool on this record – Constantinople mentions Norris Green, the Liverpool estate where McCulloch grew up. A Flock Of Seagulls were from there too.
You’ve been on Wikipedia haven’t you?
Er yeah. Norris Green was featured in an episode of DIY SOS and Ross Kemp On Gangs.
Very interesting. So would you recommend a purchase?
Definitely. If you’re coming back to the band after a long absence you’ll hear a lot here that will sound like a continuation from Ocean Rain. If you’re a new listener then it will definitely open the door.