Echo And The Bunnymen are fast becoming the next generation of Rolling Stones i.e. a once popular group trading on past glories but still persisting with new releases to general public and critical indifference. ‘The Fountain’ is the obligatory new album and – although far from a disaster – it only hints at the former greatness of founder members Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant.
The chief difference between ‘The Fountain’ and their other recent albums is that The Bunnymen now have a new rhythm section and they certainly inject the album with vigour even if songwriting inspiration is largely absent. ‘Think I Need It Too’ and ‘Do You Know Who I Am?’ are punchy and serviceable. Yet fine though these songs may be, it’s unlikely anyone will be singing them in stadiums any time soon and Sergeant’s distinctive guitar work and McCulloch’s sneer only excel sporadically. A few tracks should stand the test of time though. ‘Drivetime’ and ‘The Idolness Of Gods’ make up an unexpectedly rich and dignified finale whilst ‘Life Of A Thousand Crimes’ and its stop-start chorus is edgy, hook-filled and not unlike ‘Bedbugs And Ballyhoo’ in its construction.
The fact is Sergeant and McCulloch haven’t made a great album for twenty five years now and most fans of their older material will be hardly expecting a miracle here. As it happens, this is another spirited effort, which shows that though the power to excite has long since disappeared, they are still a sturdy, reliable rock act who are probably best experienced live.