Thursday, October 25, 2012
Echo and the Bunnymen -- What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?
1999, the year before I graduated high school, was the best of my life to this moment. I remember sitting in my car that summer on my Winn-Dixie lunch break, trying to plot out a time to go see American Beauty (a manipulative, but incredibly well-made film), when this song came on my KLSU-tuned radio.
My first thought was, wow this song is beautiful. My second thought was, who is this wise old dude singing it? That old dude was Ian McCulloch, and while What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? is an Echo and the Bunnymen album, and the first my 17-year old self ever heard of the band, it might as well be an Ian McCulloch solo album. As it turns out, though, in the case of What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?, that is a very good thing.
What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? is the sound of Ian McCulloch watching his own sun set, and waiting for the stars to come out. He fully embraces his aging rock-star identity, doesn't try to be something he is not, and produces a chilled out album of mostly full-band and strings acoustic songs punctuated by electric lights from guitarist, Will Segeant, the Bunnymen's only other remaining original member.
The cover art of McCulloch gradually wandering into a desert makes for a great reflection of the album, as well. A few weeks after hearing this for the first time, my family took a trip all the way across America on I-10 West to the Pacific. I saw the American West for the first time with this album fresh in my head, facing one more year of high school and wondering the very question of the album title. The answer was simple: Review this album on my Internet blog thirteen years later and give it a 9/10.
What U2 Were Doing At the Time: While Echo and the Bunnymen had now learned the art of aging gracefully, U2 was still two years away from doing the same (with 2001's excellent All That You Can't Leave Behind). In fact, U2 was fresh off of kind of embarrassing themselves by doing exactly the opposite with the promotion of their 1997 Pop album, trying to be hip and with it like the kids these days, and just looking kind of silly. Actually, with the rumors of who has been producing them lately, I'm scared they're about to do it again, but anyway... Between U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen, the Bunnymen always peaked first, and their "check it out, we're old" album is no different.
1999 London Records
1. What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? 5:11
2. Rust 5:09
3. Get in the Car 4:21
4. Baby Rain 4:17
5. History Chimes 3:25
6. Lost on You 4:50
7. Morning Sun 4:12
8. When It All Blows Over 2:57
9. Fools Like Us 4:02