Monday, 9 January 2017

Echo And The Bunnymen "Porcupine" (1983)

Echo & The Bunnymen, based in Liverpool, are fast becoming a favorite of mine. "Porcupine" is the bands third and an infectious record rampant with dense songs from start to end. Their sound has transformed a little since "Heaven Up Here", a strong psychedelic vibe is present, through melodies, guitar effects and the drums which seem a lot busier with additional percussive sounds around the core drum beats. Its a richer experience, every instrument contributes to a constant wash of dense music that is expanded on a couple of tracks where strings, pianos and bells join in effortlessly.

Opening with "The Cutter" the band deliver one of their catchiest tunes yet and the knack for a good chorus really comes to fruition. Singer McCulloch gives another dazzling performance with heavy, emotional inflections into his sung words. Lyrically he seems rather pessimistic, cynical and morose with many negative statements and suggestions on positive attributions. Its most likely metaphorical statements for personal experiences, yet it comes across as a bit hollow, words that don't carry weight. Even so its easy to sing along to given his lively performance and timely delivery of melodic singing.

Behind him a dense instrumentation whirls with thought for all sorts of nuances and details that give it detail and depth, after many listens you'll still be picking out little quirks in the background. There is also a fluid sense of creativity where each song manages to make a break from the norm of its song structure for interludes and breaks that spice up the music, which is already rather rich and spicy given the fast bustling guitars that constantly layer up with other instruments and sounds.

The records production has a lot of weight on the music, much of the vibes and atmospheres these songs yield are felt in the tones and reverbs the instruments are captured with. "Clay" for example has a tinge of darkness about it, its guitars and vocals has far more echo and they bounce of one another for a sense of subtle disconnect. This use of reverb and sound design can be felt on the less thick songs the record has, it also plays a lot into the psychedelic vibe present.

Its a great record, probably best heard than described as its the sort of music that alludes me of the words to express it. That's a compliment though, if easily described perhaps it is more formulaic and predictable. Even though its songs are structured and follow norms it's the rich density of sound this album has that yields its charm. An engrossing listen, looking forward to the next one now.

Favorite Songs: The Cutter, The Back Of Love, Clay
Rating: 8/10