1980, Music

Crocodiles (1980) by Echo and the Bunnymen

Maybe it’s when I came to the Bunnymen but I am constantly underwhelmed by a band that most consider one of the pillars of British Post Punk (a genre I love). They always remind me of other bands (both past and contemporary) and I find myself wondering what’s with all the hype. (Someone once claimed it was the best British album of 1980, for instance.)

I agree that the songs are considerably catchier and more accessible than those of some of their contemporaries. That’s particularly impressive on a debut, given how many similar bands got their sound right early but didn’t necessarily figure out how to write great songs until later. That is not a problem here.

People reference The Doors with this band, and I definitely get that a bit. But I also get a more psychedelic, more interesting, less anthemic U2. Or maybe the Banshees with Bono instead Siouxsie Sioux. Because I know all of those bands well – and others I hear echoes of – and because I came to know them before I ever heard any Bunnymen album, I can’t help feel like this is not a particularly unique sound, wether or not it’s fair.

The production is what you would expect: too much echo not enough depth. Seriously though, this is the sound of most British post punk records, especially those from 1980 and earlier. It sounds better (and less obvious) here because this band uses overdubs. (It’s particularly noticeable – and annoying – when there are fewer instruments.)

I am likely underrating this record: the songs are good and the playing is good. The vibe is very much of the time but that’s to be expected. It probably plays a bigger role in the history of the genre than I can give it credit for, but I can’t stop thinking about other bands and albums when I listen to this band.


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