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Echo & the Bunnymen

Echo & the Bunnymen's dark, swirling fusion of gloomy post-punk and -inspired psychedelia is driven by the majestic voice and outsized persona of singer and the frequently brilliant guitar work of Will Sergeant. The band started off as an angular post-punk group on their first album, 1980's Crocodiles, but by the time of 1984's Ocean Rain they had become cinematically Baroque. After stripping their sound down to basics for 1987's self-titled album, which produced the deathless hit "Lips Like Sugar," the band ran into problems and experienced tragedy (like the death of drummer Pete de Freitas), but eventually and Sergeant cemented a musical bond that cracked but never shattered over the course of a lengthy careers -- leading them to release introspective gems like 1999's What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?, 2014's Meteorites, and 2018's The Stars, the Oceans & the Moon) that illuminated their mysterious, dramatic spark.

The Bunnymen grew out of the Crucial Three, a late-'70s trio featuring vocalist , , and . and had left the group by the end of 1977, forming and Wah!, respectively. met guitarist Will Sergeant in the summer of 1978 and the pair began recording demos with a drum machine that the duo called "Echo." Adding bassist Les Pattinson, the band made its live debut at the Liverpool club Eric's at the end of 1978, calling itself Echo & the Bunnymen.

In March of 1979, the group released its first single, "Pictures on My Wall"/"Read It in Books," on the local Zoo record label. The single and their popular live performances led to a contract with . After signing the contract, the group discarded the drum machine, adding drummer Pete de Freitas. Released in the summer of 1980, their debut album, Crocodiles, reached number 17 on the U.K. charts. Shine So Hard, an EP released in the fall, became their first record to crack the U.K. Top 40. With the more ambitious and atmospheric Heaven Up Here (1981), the group began to gain momentum, thanks to positive reviews; it became their first U.K. Top Ten album. Two years later, Porcupine appeared, becoming the band's biggest hit (peaking at number two on the U.K. charts) and launching the Top Ten single "The Cutter."

"The Killing Moon" became the group's second Top Ten hit at the beginning of 1984 and the album that followed in May, Ocean Rain, was released to great critical acclaim; peaking at number four in Britain, the record became the Bunnymen's first album to chart in the U.S. Top 100. The following year was a quiet one for the band as they released only one new song, "Bring on the Dancing Horses," which was included on the compilation Songs to Learn & Sing. De Freitas left the band at the start of 1986 and was replaced by former drummer ; by September, de Freitas rejoined the group.

Echo & the Bunnymen returned with new material in the summer of 1987, releasing the single "The Game" and a self-titled album. Echo & the Bunnymen became their biggest American hit, peaking at number 51; it was a success in England as well, reaching number four. However, the album indicated that the group was in a musical holding pattern. At the end of 1988, left the band to pursue a solo career; the rest of the band decided to continue without the singer. Tragedy hit the band in the summer of 1989 when de Freitas was killed in an auto accident. released his first solo album, Candleland, in the fall of 1989; it peaked at number 18 in the U.K. and number 159 in the U.S. Echo & the Bunnymen released Reverberation, their first album recorded without , in 1990; it failed to make the charts. released his second solo album, Mysterio, in 1992. Two years later, and Sergeant formed , releasing their first album in 1995. In 1997, the duo re-teamed with Pattinson to re-form Echo & the Bunnymen, issuing the LP Evergreen. Two years later, they returned with What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?

The new millennium brought Echo & the Bunnymen back to the basics. The British press touted the band's storybook flair found on 1983's Ocean Rain and figured such spark would be found on their ninth album, Flowers. Issued in spring 2001, it reflected 's dark vocals and Sergeant's signature hooks. Live in Liverpool, a concert disc capturing the band's two gigs at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts while on tour in support of Flowers, followed a year later. For 2005's Siberia, and Sergeant joined producer Hugh Jones for the band's most classic effort since their 1997 comeback. A second proper live album, 2006's Me, I'm All Smiles, captured the Bunnymen's gig at Shepherd's Bush Empire while on tour in support of Siberia. In early 2008, the band announced that they would be releasing their next album, The Fountain, as well as playing a show at Radio City Music Hall to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Late 2010 also brought a short run of equally interesting U.K. shows, when the band played both Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here live in their entirety.

For the next few years they continued to remain active on the live circuit, most notably playing as the touring support act for a re-formed in 2013. They weren't strangers to the studio either, working with producer on their 12th album, Meteorites. The record recaptured the majesty and mystery of much earlier Echo albums and was released in 2014 by . It was the first album by the band in many years to crack the U.K. Top 40 album chart, peaking at number 37. The band continued to tour and their success caught the attention of , which offered them a contract. The first fruit of that partnership was 2018's The Stars, the Oceans & the Moon, an album of old classics redone, some with orchestra, some in stripped-down fashion. It also featured two new songs written by and Sergeant. The duo played sporadic live shows over the next few years, and in late 2022 embarked on a tour of North America, roughly around the time of a deluxe reissue of Evergreen was released.

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