Echo & The Bunnymen Evergreen
Also Available Evergreen Limited Edition
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The cover alone is a dead giveaway, echoing as it does the cover of Crocodiles, with what looks like a set of trees and a car in place of De Freitas. But that telling and unavoidable absence alone puts the promise and problem of Echo's comeback album in perspective -- McCulloch and Sergeant had been working together again and Pattinson returned to the fold, but without De Freitas something remained unavoidably absent. Replacement drummer Michael Lee fills in adequately but not completely, rendering what was a special group something less so. The remaining core three discharge their duties well enough, but the focus is unavoidably on McCulloch this time around, rendering Sergeant and Pattinson to the status of talented backing players and making Evergreen seem like an extension of McCulloch's solo career more than anything. While Sergeant in particular shows many flashes of the brilliance of Echo's first phase, his work is more conventional here, perhaps the result of his experimental tendencies with his solo project, Glide. As an album Evergreen is closest to Ocean Rain due to the liberal appearance of the London Symphony Orchestra throughout, sometimes with impressive results, though without achieving the total heights of artistry of that earlier collection. There's nothing quite like "The Killing Moon" or "Ocean Rain" itself this time around. For all that, when Evergreen shines at its best, it's still an attractive piece of work. The album's most successful number, the gently epic "Nothing Lasts Forever," gets an extra boost from an uncredited backing singer, Oasis' Liam Gallagher, while "I Want to Be There (When You Come)," the title track, and the moody "Just a Touch Away" kick up some smoke.