Thursday, September 01, 2005

Echo and the Bunnymen's Siberia, the band's first album in four years, will be released in Canada by True North Records on Oct. 4. While I don't know if any song ranks as an all-time Echo classic, from start to finish this may be the most consistent overall album the band has put out (this is its 10th studio album) in its 26 years. Ian McCulloch calls it the band's masterpiece, but he's never been one to keep his ego in check when it comes to extolling his own genius. But the songs are strong, McCulloch's in good voice, and Will Sergeant's guitar work is still divine. Hugh Jones -- who produced the band's Heaven Up Here album in 1981 and who's also worked with The Teardrop Explodes, Simple Minds and Del Amitri -- returned once again to take over from McCulloch and Sergeant. Jones says it's the best album he's ever produced, too, so I guess these guys (and me) must be on to something. Parts of album opener Stormy Weather vaguely remind me of a more upbeat The Killing Moon near the beginning. Of A Life and Make Us Blind are my other two favourites, but I haven't found any filler after my first two listens to this 50-minute CD. Bassist Pete Wilkinson and drummer Simon Finley, who played on McCulloch's shining Slideling album from 2003 and who have been touring with McCulloch and Sergeant, round out the quartet for Siberia. The band will be touring North America in November and December and a Nov. 23 date at Toronto's elegant Carlu is on the schedule. I finally saw Echo and the Bunnymen for the first time when the group played Palais Royale two years ago, and I was impressed by both how tight the band was and how well so many of its songs still hold up after all of these years. With these 11 new great songs to choose from to add to the set list, I'm sure this tour will bring more memorable shows.

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