Echo & the Bunnymen / Heaven Up Here

Fan Post by Jodie Pacheco-Elizondo

There is an inexplicable comfort that comes from listening to music while sitting in the dark. The first time I heard a song by Echo & the Bunnymen I was thirteen and it was 3 AM on a school night. I was having trouble falling asleep, so I grabbed my earbuds. My friend and I used to trade our iPods back and forth to share whatever latest bands or songs had caught our interest. At the time, I had been playing Joy Division on repeat because post-punk was the first genre I had truly fallen in love with. That hadn’t escaped her notice so she made a playlist for me full of similar songs she thought I might like, based on recommendations from her older sister.

I hit play and the opening notes of “Over the Wall” had me instantly hooked. Right away the buildup leading to the first verse created a mood that put something in me at ease. The song’s six-minute runtime was spent by staring up at the glow in the dark stars on my ceiling wondering how the rest of the playlist could possibly measure up in comparison. It didn’t.

To my delight, the rest of Heaven Up Here only further expands upon the themes and sounds presented in “Over the Wall”. The first half of the album is smoothly carried by rhythmic bass loops. Those set the foundation for the infectious desperation and sense of wavering urgency that permeates Ian McCulloch’s wailing lyrics. Right away it is very easy to become swept up in how well each of the album’s components come together, forming enticingly melancholic yet eerily hopeful melodies.

For me, the album paints an image of a constantly shifting greyscale landscape teetering between varying degrees of light and darkness. Many of the songs, such as “Turquoise Days”, seem to resonate a feeling of walking along the thin barrier that separates two different areas. While at times it feels as if a choice has been made to accept the darkness or renounce it altogether, I can’t help but feel as if the album ultimately ends with the decision to stay in the middle. I never thought that there could be a comfort in purgatory, but this album makes the case for the captivating world that lies in being indecisively lost.

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