Flowers (spinART)

Echo and the Bunnymen 

Flowers (spinART)

Between Rhino's amazingly comprehensive four-disc boxed set Crystal Days: 1979-1999 and Flowers, the third album since Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant reformed the band, fans of Echo and the Bunnymen have had an expensive summer. But while the box is unquestionably glorious, Flowers falls somewhere between 1984's delicate and divine Ocean Rain and 1990's pointless Reverberation, which the group recorded with a new frontman after McCulloch left for a solo career.

"It's Alright," which opens with a nagging guitar hook that effortlessly leads to a swirling chorus, and "Buried Alive," which puts McCulloch's deep, cautiously reassuring voice to excellent use, rank among the tracks that should surface on future Echo best-of compilations. It helps the cause, too, that McCulloch and Sergeant's new sidemen do a good job of what they were presumably hired to do: play enough like the Bunnymen no longer in the band so as not to call attention to the fact that they aren't those people. Flowers does, however, suffer from a been-there/done-that retread effect, and not just because of its similarity to earlier records -- by the end of the disc, it sounds like the band is recycling songs from the album's first half. Flowers might satisfy the Bunnymen's longtime fans, the ones who have managed to wear out three copies of Songs to Learn and Sing and are hungry for more, but virgin ears will probably be left wondering what the fuss is all about.

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