Monday, April 28, 2008

No. 471: Heaven Up Here

Band: Echo & the Bunnymen
Album: Heaven Up Here
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The Liverpool band took psychedelic guitars an dark, Morrison-esque lyrics together to become one of the stalwarts of post-punk.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The album is not even Echo & the Bunnymen's best. I hear it as an amalgam of better records.
Best song: The title track and "Show of Strength" are great.
Worst song: "All I Want" isn't good.
Is it awesome?: Nah.

Post-punk gets mostly tuned down within the confines of a magazine like Rolling Stone. It's a function of sales and someone like Echo & the Bunnymen didn't sell as many records as the more New Wave bands.

(Take all this with the caveat that genre is mostly meaningless. I'll use the post-punk/New Wave distinction here largely on the basis of record sales, hooks and popularity. Talking Heads were popular, therefore, New Wave. Echo & the Bunnymen didn't sell as many records, therefore, post-punk.)

"Heaven Up Here," though, is delightful and raucous. Partially a predecessor to grander records like My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless," the album features psychedelic guitars, though to a smaller extent than "Loveless." As with PiL, Echo & the Bunnymen is decidedly dark, though not in the way John Lydon's lyrics are.

"Heaven Up Here" is the Echo & the Bunnymen record with the fewest hook and the band's least accessible. Still, the album is mostly taking other pieces from better record and I'm not impressed.

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