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Ian McCulloch and will sergeant are without doubt one of the great partnerships of the post-punk era. And, in theory, Sergeant could drop a sparkling psychedelic lick upon each of Slideling’s 11 tracks and we’d be looking at the follow-up to 2001’s Flowers. But he hasn’t, and we’re not. And yet the absence of Sergeant’s riffing is pretty much all that really distinguishes the sound of the Bunnymen from solo McCulloch.

Either way, and with no disrespect to his sparring partner, Slideling is the best album McCulloch’s had a hand in since 1984’s Ocean Rain. Unlike 1989’s deeply personal Candleland and 1992’s disappointing Mysterio, both recorded in post-split/pre-reformation acrimony, this time he’s just moonlighting from Bunnyland.

All the same, it’s a busman’s holiday. “Stake Your Claim” and the gorgeous “Sliding” are as heart-skippingly splendid as “Bring On The Dancing Horses”, the chorus of “Arthur” as deliciously romantic as “Nothing Lasts Forever” and the dazzling “Kansas” finds Mac up to his shades in heaven, hell and hopes writ large in the stars.

That said, here McCulloch is freer to scratch his Lou Reed itch, obvious from the opening chug of “Love In Veins” through to “High Wires” (with its “some kinda love” chorus) and most blatantly “Baby Hold On”, which unblinkingly robs “Walk On The Wild Side” of its sliding bass sound. He’s also more sentimental on his own, such as on the Beatlesy “Playgrounds And City Parks”, which is too sappy for your average Bunnymen LP perhaps but more than welcome here.

Slideling is an intense, uplifting rush of blood to the head (no pun intended?Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland feature on “Sliding” and “Arthur”).

Smashing stuff, Mac?but for the love of trenchcoats and camo’, don’t go giving up the day job just yet.

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