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The Fountain

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Album Review

Echo & the Bunnymen's latter-day career has become a classic example of the old "live by the sword, die by the sword" adage. If an album like The Fountain was released by a band with no history, or one with an unexceptional track record, it would likely be deemed a promising effort. But the Bunnymen blazed a burning path through the '80s, turning out some of the era's most original, unforgettable sonic statements, a looming legacy that gives them a lot to live up to. The Fountain is the fifth album the band has released since their '90s reunion, and there have been consistently diminishing returns from 1997's Evergreen on out. There's nothing overtly unpleasant on The Fountain, and it's not without its high points, either, like the Jesus & Mary Chain-ish "Proxy" with its sunny '60s pop melodies and churning guitars, the lambent, Richard Hawley-gone-poetic ballad "The Idolness of Gods," or the driving, direct stomp of "Do You Know Who I Am." The trouble is, even these songs seem to have had their edges sanded off — all the creepiness, grandeur, and left-field eccentricity that made the band's '80s albums classic has been replaced by a play-it-as-it-lays feel that puts the Bunnymen more on a par with the Brit-poppers they've influenced than anything else. Maybe it would be easier to give The Fountain the benefit of the doubt if it hadn't been preceded by four similar efforts, or if singer Ian McCulloch hadn't spent the band's entire career unabashedly proclaiming their genius and preeminence in the rock world, but that's a lot of "if" to work with. ~ J. Allen, Rovi

Biography

Formed: September, 1978 in Liverpool, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Echo & the Bunnymen's dark, swirling fusion of gloomy post-punk and Doors-inspired psychedelia brought the group a handful of British hits in the early '80s, while attracting a cult following in the United States. The Bunnymen grew out of the Crucial Three, a late-'70s trio featuring vocalist Ian McCulloch, Pete Wylie, and Julian Cope. Cope and Wylie left the group by the end of 1977, forming the Teardrop Explodes and Wah!, respectively. McCulloch met guitarist Will Sergeant in the summer of...
Full bio