Each week, we take a retrospective look on albums which we think are either criminally underrated or woefully overrated, and why they actually rock/suck.
Did Echo & the Bunnymen ever make a classic album? Not just a good album – because almost all of their releases were good – but a stone cold classic. Maybe not. Most fans would state that Ocean Rain is their magnum opus, but is it possible that Porcupine, their third album, is equally as strong and was simply overshadowed by the work that followed?
Firstly, very few albums have ever started with a two-song salvo as strong as ‘The Cutter’ and ‘The Back of Love’ – two post-punk classics that demonstrate The Bunnymen’s ability to be as playful as they are introspective, where the band drift between the two moods seamlessly within the songs. The rest of the album, while not containing any more timeless hits, finds a satisfying level of emotional depth without ever coming across as over-bearing or pretentious.
A clever technique employed on Porcupine is the way that Ian McCulloch’s vocals are treated. On ‘Clay’ they sound like another instrument, reverberating almost as much as Will Sergeant’s guitar – something that often nearly single-handedly lifts the Bunnymen above many of their peers. He has an unrivalled ability to add the perfect amount of guitar at any point, whether it’s the provocative chords in ‘Porcupine’ or those iconic jabs at the start of ‘The Back of Love’. However, that isn’t to say that Les Pattinson’s elastic bass-playing or Pete De Freitas’ tight drumming aren’t just as vital to the band’s sound. Having all the members of a band play damn close to their full potential without sounding self-absorbed is a pretty rare thing but it’s hard to deny that it happens here.
On the 2003 remaster of the album, the final track is ‘Never Stop (Discotheque)’ – one of the greatest dance-rock tracks of the decade. It’s definitely the edition to pick up if you can. Although arguing about which edition to choose is splitting hairs; the fundamental point is that Porcupine is definitely the album to pick up.
Click here to listen to the album in full and hear for yourself.