Flash back to the ’80s with today’s rock predecessor

Hey kids! I’ve got a question for you. Who is your favorite band right now? Well I’m sure that some of you would respond with such names as the Killers, Interpol, maybe British Sea Power and definitely Coldplay.

What all of these bands have in common is that they spend a lot of time looking to the past for inspiration for the present. And they have all been influenced highly by Echo & the Bunnymen.

Now, some of you out there are probably saying, “Echo and the who?” while others might respond by saying, “Oh yeah, I remember them from the ‘Pretty in Pink’ or ‘Lost Boys’ soundtracks.” They are, in fact, one of the most influential bands of the last 25 years. The album “Siberia,” the band’s 10th LP and first full-length since 2001’s “Flowers,” may just stand as one of the best albums in their catalogue.

The sound could still be classified as distinctly ’80s, but it seems to me that if they tried to do anything else, the band would just seem incredibly out of place. The album might seem long and overbearing to some, as only two of the 11 tracks clock in at under four minutes.

This is counteracted nicely by the sparkling, edgy pop moments spread throughout the record that helped make the band famous in the first place. The instrumentation is soaked with reverb and delay, which serves to give the music a wonderfully ethereal quality.

Singer Ian McCulloch (whose lips were recently proclaimed one of Spin Magazine’s top 25 most incredible rock star body parts) sounds just about as fresh as he ever has.

This album differs from some of the band’s past work in its attitude. This is about as peppy and upbeat as we have ever heard Echo & the Bunnymen, which is a little uncharacteristic of the band that became famous for its dark, swirling post-punk creations. However, the band pulls it off well, and helps to open up a few of the songs.

“Stormy Weather,” the album’s opening track and lead single, sounds like a trip through the way-back machine, but through its bittersweet musings is a very catchy, hook-filled melody. The self-reflective “Parthenon Drive” provides us with Will Sergeant’s best guitar work on the album, and perhaps some of the best of the band’s entire lifespan.

The album’s best song, “Of A Life,” is the track where all the pieces come together and mesh perfectly. McCulloch’s vocal work is at its strongest here and is as energetic as anything we’ve heard from him.

Other key tracks on the album include “All Because of You Days,” “In The Margins” and “Scissors in the Sand.”

After listening to the record several times, it has become one of my favorites from the group. With its cool yet swaggering demeanor, this album is perhaps the band’s most passionate work since their 1984 masterpiece “Ocean Rain.” This record will certainly fit into any collection nicely, right between works by The Cure, New Order and The Smiths.