Echo and the Bunnymen, Reverberation
Why critics thought it sucked: the notion of an Ian McCulloch-less Bunnymen – he was the frontman and main songwriter, if you don’t know—filled people with such dread that they didn’t even give it a chance. Apart from a brief appearance on the US charts, this album has been buried by fans and the band alike—not a single song from it appeared on their box set, and it’s been long out of print.
Why it doesn’t suck: Sure, without McCulloch’s distinctive baritone rumblings, it ain’t really a Bunnymen record, and a case could be made that they should have called it something else. Reverberation is, however, a terrific record—“Enlighten Me” is as good a song as the band’s ever done, and it’s surrounded by tons of other interesting, quirky, psychedelic guitar pop. Dig if you will the very Ocean Rain-y “Cut and Dried,” or the bouncy “King of Your Castle,” or the smooth album-opener “Gone, Gone, Gone.” And the album ends with the one-two punch of “Flaming Red”—a gorgeous, mysterious ballad—and the powerful “False Goodbyes.” Singer Noel Burke has a fine voice, and his lyrics aren’t terrible at all (at times, they’re funnier/wittier/more interesting than McCulloch’s). His only crime, of course, was that he wasn’t McCulloch—and by the middle of the 90s, he’d be back anyway, Burke being resigned to a mere Wikipedia footnote. Track this one down—it’s hard to find, but it’s worth it.
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