Siberia

Studio Album by released in 2005

Siberia review

Few bands have had as much impact on today's brooding wave of guitar bands as Echo & the Bunnymen, best known of late, perhaps, for The Killing Moon, their magnificent contribution to the Donnie Darko soundtrack. Post-Punk may be all the rage, but no one is replicating the lush, romantic psychedelic sweep of Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant. Siberia is the group's first album in four years and, though not as strong as the likes of 1981’s Heaven Up Here, it suggests that there is life in the old poseurs yet. Some of that is due no doubt to producer Hugh Jones, who hasn't worked with them since the aforementioned album and here, remarkably, elicits a few moments that stand comparison with the glory years. McCulloch and Sergeant continue their quest for the sublime and the beautiful by returning to the more instinctive approach to songwriting that used to bring them together.

They've distilled the chilling atmospherics of their past on Parthenon Drive, while the feet-on-the-ground longing of Everything Kills You could have been plucked from Echo & the Bunnymen's 1997 comeback, Evergreen. Always a band to wear their influences on their trench coats, a melody reminiscent of the Crystals' Then He Kissed Me drips into the classic jangly indie of Make Us Blind. The constant driving rhythms give the impression the band is playing with an axe hanging over them, but Echo & the Bunnymen have rarely sounded warmer. All Because Of You Days is arguably the best track, McCulloch's voice more moving than it has a right to be, while the single Stormy Weather is imbued with the kind of mystery that could make long black overcoats fashionable again. As fresh as anything post Porcupine, this is the sound of a band enjoying a remarkable late flourish – and augers well for even greater things to come. Unlike their contemporaries, Echo & the Bunnymen are growing old gracefully.

Reunions are typically mixed affairs, varying between joyous nostalgia and sobering disappointment. But Siberia's lead off single, Stormy Weather, and three quarters of their first album in four years show Echo & the Bunnymen can still resemble a force of nature rather than a business arrangement. Siberia takes the band back to their roots; it features their dark, swirling fusion of post-punk and Doors-inspired psychedelia that brought the group worldwide acclaim and a massive cult following. Ian McCulloch has written a fine collection of melodic and poignant songs but the difference this time is that he's allowed Will Sergeant the license to unleash his full repertoire of guitar riffs and hooks. Add the tight rhythm of Pete Wilkinson (Bass) and Simon Finley (Drums) to the mix and you have the first Echo & the Bunnymen's album in decades that sounds like a well-rehearsed band. That old Echo & the Bunnymen's vibe, that groove, the distinctive chiming guitar is back and in bucket loads. Forget Tahiti, Jamaica and Maui. Skip Paris, Madrid and Casablanca. If you're looking for a really memorable trip, try visiting Echo & the Bunnymen's Siberia.