Echo & The Bunnymen: Masters of the sacred art of album making. Porcupine is volume 3 in the possibly greatest succession of albums ever... Crocodiles to Echo & The Bunnymen... and it is a worthy installment. Following 81's dark and atmospheric Heaven Up Here, Porcupine is ready to progress accordingly and shows the growth of the Bunnymen as artists. In Crocodiles the sound was aggressive with a focus on drums. Heaven Up Here put the guitar in the spotlight with better (and quite frankly awesome) pipes from macca. Porcupine takes this and, looking back, bridges the gap from Heaven Up Here to Ocean Rain, whilst still being a quality record on its own. There are times where you can really feel the cold of its predecessor (with appropriate artwork), paticularly on Higher Hell, Porcupine and The Cutter with familiar lyrics and vocals. Difference comes with the sound which has been refined from the rawness of the two albums before, incorporating a greater range of instruments like strings and various percussion, whilst flexing some serious production muscle. However its important not to get carried away with Porcupine being a paticularly dark record as its just not. It is, like the cover, reminiscent of a snowy, blizzardy day (paticularly with the xylophony-bits) that is magical and wondrous but not exactly heart-warming. The songs are stuctured with real Bunnymen sophistication and mystery, but at the same time retaining just the right amount of accessibility as displayed on Back of Love. Its easy to see where they went from here, taking a little bit of the chilliness into 'Nocturnal Me' and twisting into a bit of eccentricity with 'Thorn of Crowns' on the following album. Porcupine is solid and sophisticated. It is chilly and cool without being morbid or depressing. The instrumental arrangements are spot on without being showy or extravagant. This repackaged issue is actually pretty good, with polished sound and, interestingly, alternative versions of tracks which in some cases are better than their album equivalents. Not to mention Fuel and Never Stop which have typical Bunnymen quality all over them. Despite all of this goodness... its still fourth in the pecking order. Never mind that though, just buy it anyway.
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