Record Machine: Echo & The Bunnymen

I love Echo & The Bunnymen’s self-titled 1987 album almost as much as I love their 1984 masterpiece Ocean Rain, but the self-titled is the one I have on vinyl, so here we are. Let’s talk about it.

Echo and The Bunnymen (self-titled)

Echo & The Bunnymen is the band’s fifth album, and the last one with singer Ian McCulloch before he left the band. They released one album after his departure, then broke up from 1993-1996, when McCulloch rejoined the band. They are still active, with their latest album, Meteorites, released this year. Echo & the Bunnymen has less echo-y spookiness compared to its predecessor, perhaps due to it being more keyboard-heavy than it is with strings.

Easily my favorite song on the album is “Lips Like Sugar.” That soaring chorus gets me every time:

You’ll flow in her river
She’ll ask you and you’ll give her
Lips like sugar, sugar kisses
Lips like sugar, sugar kisses

It’s such a great song dedicated to that person who you just can’t kick, even though you know you deserve better.

Another single from the album, “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo,” is reminiscent of  The Doors with the organ riff running throughout, though it still has that trademark Bunnymen shimmer. (The band would later release a cover of the Doors song “People Are Strange,” so I’m guessing the influence is deliberate.)

The lyrics are a bit sillier on the surface — “That’s the way the bee bumbles” — but I enjoy it a lot.

I also like the album’s closer, “All My Life,” which is heavy on the strings.

Cannon fire burning
On the hillside
You and I are side by side
Tin soldiers playing our tune

In a lot of ways, this self-titled album is a more well-behaved version of Echo & The Bunnymen. But how exactly does one come back from the magnificence that is Ocean Rain? No wonder they became burnt out with each other after squeezing out this last bit of greatness. A decade to recover seems natural. I’m glad that they are still a good band — not all reunited groups are (HI BUSH, I’M LOOKING AT YOU, BUSH) — and though I was too young to know of the band during the height of their popularity, I’m glad to have them now.

Echo and The Bunnymen - back coverSide One

This Game
Over You
Bedbugs & Ballyhoo
All in Your Mind
Bombers Bay

Side Two

Lips Like Sugar
Lost and Found
New Direction
Blue Blue Ocean
New Direction
All My Life

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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