Siouxsie - Mantaray (W14)
21 Nov 2007
oddly, 'mantaray' is siouxsie's first solo album in a career that stretches back decades, and it's also one of the finest performances miss sioux's ever put on a record; release - '07
That Siouxsie looks so amazing on the cover of this, her better late than never debut solo album, is perhaps testament to long sabbaticals from the pop fray, or perhaps it's simply one of the benefits of being photographed upside down whilst surrounded by butterflies. This sort of exotic reference is in keeping with her 'Hong Kong Garden' (which reads ruder than it should) and genuinely punk, past; a woman who was able to swim with the gob alongside the rest of them, whilst retaining that quintessential glamour indie boys will never achieve. It reminds us once again of how closely punk sailed to image, and the close relationship between art and clothes.
One of the drawbacks of Siouxsie and the Banshees was not the lack of authenticity, a look at her past will contest this was far from an issue, but that the human centre was sometimes lost amongst the fury. This is corrected quite bluntly here by the opening track, 'Into a Swan' which is a kicking tune, with guitar thrashes so similar to door buzzers, you'll miss some of it by investigating who's at the door, but as it tremors into a fade you realise you've been elsewhere for four minutes, and not just in the stairwell.
There's driving rock/electronic rhythms, with far more finesse and heart than perhaps we should expect, though her recent band The Creatures should have prepared us - she always was a bold malcontent. 'Here Comes That Day' even comes across as an alt-Bond theme, which is simultaneously touching and jaw-droppingly ambitious. It even sounds like a Bond film title to be.
The rhythmic 'If It Doesn't Kill You' has gentle/rough guitar acrobatics that could not be more sincere if they were a letter from the frontline. However, there are dips, namely, 'Drone Zone' which lives up to its name and is the kind of thing that could kill you, through boredom, and is only of interest in terms of amazement at how she (and band) stayed awake until the end - if you've ever wondered what the musical equivalent of being stuck in Blackwall Tunnel rush-hour traffic sounds like, then your search is over. However, the slurred electro of ominous 'They Follow You' and piano-driven 'Sea of Tranquillity' with its discordance reminiscent of PJ Harvey, or Bjork at their most touching, are the work of an artist at the height of confidence and powers. And the positively single material, with swelling male choir and soul-boy baseline, of 'Heaven and Alchemy', follows even these.
In short, if you like surprises, get yourself 'Mantaray'.
Stream four tracks from 'Mantaray' HERE.