Echo and the Bunnymen, Crocodiles
Echo at their dark best on this bracing debut
Echo and the Bunnymen ditched "Echo" — which is what Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant dubbed the drum machine that originally served as their rhythm section — before they got around to recording Crocodiles, the band's 1980 debut. But there are traces of Krautrock's motorik pulse nonetheless, in the form of a nervous clockwork underpinning tempered post-punk flare-ups. But in contrast to their pallid peers, even at its chilliest the Bunnymen's music feels unusually flushed; it's a blood transfusion that proceeds from the Doors, the Stones and the entire British legacy of misinterpreted American roots music. (As McCulloch himself admits, asking, "Is this the blues I'm singing?")
Laying into his whammy bar with extreme prejudice, Will Sergeant plays around the changes, adding flashes of unexpected color and timbral tangents that ring like bullets glancing off a thunderclap. The atmospheres here are sometimes more substantial than the songs themselves, but there are still plenty of thrills in the slash-and-burn guitars and death-funk bass lines; behind the incendiary grandeur, there are quieter, more mysterious bits, like touches of vibraphone and curiously voiced chords. A taster of what's to come on subsequent albums, "Rescue" hides a hole in its discordant heart, and one of the best of the band's many epic choruses lurks in a hollow inside that.