Echo & the Bunnymen – The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon

Pulling on your heartstrings with violin strings, this is an album that is comprised mainly of previous songs reimagined is an interesting concept and one that works out mostly very well for the duo McCulloch and Sergeant.

By Zak Slater

It all kicks off with Bring on the Dancing Horses, a known classic from Songs to Learn & Sing (1985). The song is re-imagined with a modern energy and eases into the album with a safe and catchy cover. The album goes through all the classics picked from multiple different albums, peppered with new songs that fit well amongst the reinventions of their older songs. How Far? in particular is an excellent addition to the band’s discography and combines their old unique and almost mystical feel with their new sound. The Somnambulist (the other new song) provides rough guitar strains and indulgent vocals with a constant string refrain in the background that keeps the energy of the song up.

Some songs haven’t translated so well – Rescue in particular loses a lot of its personality in the dreamy theme of the album and the song does suffer for it somewhat, losing that crisp, pop front sound and eerie post-punk backdrop which made it a unique but popular song. Angels and Devils also loses a lot of the mysticism that the band was known for.

For the most part though, the album is a roaring success. The theme of the album has worked well for songs like Zimbo which has become infinitely more interesting and shows that songs can be remade for a whole new purpose. Lips Like Sugar is excellently put together, the electric organ riffs and rough guitar decay really help to put a new spin on the song while retaining the original’s identity.

The album really shines towards the end – Seven Seas evokes an intimate familiarity with its predecessor building on it without changing much, it also adds a third dimension to the song as it brings in accordion style riffs and an idle guitar. It sounds like it might if you imagine the original song playing in your head, but with an added depth.

Ocean Rain (one of the band’s classics) is treated with reverence and it serves it well – the tune hasn’t been changed much at all and brings a huge nostalgia with it, though like Seven Seas it expands into this wonderful soundscape that manages to feel fresh all the while evoking memories of listening to Ocean Rain for the first time. The song really pulls at the heartstrings with its violin strings.

The Killing Moon is by far the best track on the album, changing from its original form of an upbeat and somewhat sinister track to a reflective and emotional piece starting out with a lone piano and stretching out into rich orchestral instruments as the song goes on. It’s a perfect example of the band managing to change a song while retaining its timelessness.

This album overall is an amazing return to form, as it shows that there’s still an incredible spark of creativity and uniqueness present that marries well with their respected discography. Whilst it does stumble with certain songs it more than makes up for it with its consistent, dreamy feel, and manages to use the nostalgia of long-time fans to amazing, heartrending effect.