The former founder of Echo And The Bunnymen is releasing a new album, 'Slideling', which is his first in over a decade to be made without the assistance of usual cohort Will Sergeant. Ian McCulloch is an artist who is enormously respected by his peers and by emerging artists, but has somehow never managed to capture my imagination. I am sure he would be largely untroubled by this revelation, but just in case he should require any consolation - 'Slideling' is truly captivating.
The album begins inauspiciously with 'Love In Veins' an optimistic first track that does not suit McCulloch at all. The New Orderish welcome is an under-whelming and slightly dated opening. On the second song 'Playgrounds And City Parks' McCulloch hits his stride and does not slip up for the rest of the album. The reminiscences of childhood conjure bleak images of the inevitability of mortality: "In every breath another spark was dying". It is essentially a beautiful lovelorn ballad, with his persistent yearning characterised by the refrain: "Light up my lonely life".
'Sliding' the confusingly named first single from the album is another example of McCulloch's masterful songwriting. He is assisted on the track by Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland who have previously acknowledged the strong influence McCulloch has had on Coldplay's sound.
The album benefits from not being one paced. 'Another Train' and 'Seasons' both stand-out as anthemic and energising tracks in which he continues to muse on the passage of time: "Running out of time/ It's half past yours and half past mine".
'Slideling' may become McCulloch's 'Urban Hymns', by reinforcing his reputation with existing fans and converting hordes of previous unbelievers like myself.