When Ian McCulloch said that his band's 1984 release Ocean Rain was the best record ever made, he wasn't joking. But unlike so many pompous pop prognosticators, McCulloch has always had the chutzpah--and talent--to back up his claims. Since their inception in 1978 until their initial breakup 10 years later, Echo and the Bunnymen were critical darlings who actually warranted the accolades, a moody and standoffish collection of wankers who appealed to teens and older geeks alike.
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Touring in support of last year's excellent Siberia, a return of sorts to their early-'80s days of gloomy post-punk hits, McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant are what remains of the original quartet. But with three new members currently in tow, the duo has discovered the fountain of youth--dripping melodrama, recent singles "Stormy Weather" and "In the Margins" have nearly as much oomph as classic Bunnymen fare such as "The Killing Moon" and "Lips Like Sugar." Add Sergeant's most inventive fretwork in nearly a decade and the likelihood of an '80s post-punk hangover is about as probable as McCulloch not taking any requests.