“For me, this is a whole new approach. It’s more edgy than anything I’ve ever done. I’m dealing with something on this record I didn’t want to deal with for a long time.” A year ago, Ian McCulloch found himself in a dark place. After leading Echo & The Bunnymen through thirty-five years of epic highs and turbulent lows, the singer realised it was time to take a break and look inwards.
Holed up in his Liverpool flat, McCulloch started writing music on a bass guitar that was lying around, a process that instantly proved cathartic and fruitful. “I had been thinking of taking five years off on an island,” he explains, “but suddenly all these songs came from nowhere. It was really exciting and fresh. This record’s about my personal journey, my rebirth, even if it is a Bunnymen record.”
May 26th sees the release of Meteorites via 429 Records/Caroline, the twelfth studio album from Echo & The Bunnymen. Produced by the legendary Youth (The Verve, Embrace, Shack), Meteorites is a deeply personal record that sees McCulloch facing up to his demons with an honesty that his previous records, however emotionally raw, have invariably shied away from. “I wrote from the soul, more so than the heart and the brain.”
Meteorites opens with the album’s title track, an indie masterpiece that begins very reminiscent of the Cure’s ‘Homesick’ and slowly progresses into a typical Coldplay track in which McCulloch’s vocals sound similar to that of Chris Martin’s. The fourth on the album is a funky soul track titled ‘This Is A Breakdown’. McCulloch said “It’s the kind of title Ronnie Spector might have sung in the sixties. That line – ‘What do I want? What do I need? What have you got, to make my eyes bleed?’ – I thought, ‘will people get what I mean?’ But it just seems right, because that’s basically all that’s left sometimes. Give me this, that or the other to get me there.”
‘Lovers On The Run’ is the first single to be released from Meteorites, a new wave romance that will remind fans of ‘The Killing Moon’ from 1984’s Ocean Rain. The band also released ‘Holy Moses’ ahead of the album release, a track that almost sounds just like every other U2 song. Album closer ‘New Horizons’ sees McCulloch address some startling self-realisations that his upbringing in Liverpool may have profoundly scarred him in ways he hadn’t comprehended, in a track that sounds very similar to early Radiohead material.
Will Sergeant – the only other surviving Bunnyman from the original line-up – was absent from the initial recording sessions of ‘Meteorites’, but a playback of several tracks at Youth’s house in London persuaded him to contribute guitar. Sergeant’s parts were recorded at his home near Liverpool as the deadline to finish the album rapidly approached. The results, reminiscent of his best and most inventive work with the group, underscored the feeling that Meteorites wasn’t a McCulloch solo album, but more than worthy addition to the Bunnymen’s discography.
Check out a bit of ‘Market Town’ right here: