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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Siouxsie Mantaray

Remade And Remodelled

If Siouxsie chose to sing out the name of the riders in the 2.30 meeting at Haydock Park you can bet they’d be imbued with an ermin-lined menace. To borrow a well-known expression, all voices are unique but some are more unique than others. Not so much sung as carved, her vocal delivery, much like her appearance, has always been stylised and carefully presented.

More sensuous than passionate, her first solo album contains no major departures despite the many allusions in the lyrics to rebirth and change. The icy thrall of the Banshees and the extra-curricular comforts of The Creatures are largely intact, albeit in Technicolor rather than the film noir of yore.

Indeed, it’s interesting to hear how much of the 70s is refashioned and referenced. The triumphant punch of “Into A Swan” and “They Follow You” evoke the ghostly twilight of Bowie’s Berlin bunker days (the latter could easily be an outtake from side one of Low), whilst “About To Happen” is permeated with Eno-period Roxy whoops and swirls.

Though a lot of attention has necessarily been given to the backing tracks, it’s nothing compared to what’s been lavished upon the voice. Gothic moans and distorted whispered refrains rattle and unsettle. Gliding and smooching past Les Baxter-style exotica in the “Sea of Tranquility”; Motown flirtations during “Heaven And Alchemy” wherein individual words become oblique malleable devices designed to mystify as much magnify.

However, the Diva-card is well and truly played on the sumptuous “If it Doesn’t Kill You.” This extravagant creation possesses all the wobbly grandeur of an old-school James Bond theme and is the album’s highpoint: a yearning torch song to burn down the house. Velvet-smooth and scalpel-sharp, Siouxsie’s back in town.

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