🦇 Siouxsie and the Banshees listening club 🦇

I was ready to enjoy Peepshow, but I don’t really think it’s much better than Tinderbox or Hyaena, really. First two tracks are strong. After that my minds a blank.

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Not my fav but a little brutal I think.

Peepshow
Here we go, got a third listen in this morning to what was a new to me album as of last week.

So starting off, first impression on first listen was “Is this Janet Jackson?!” Very 80s production in the beginning of “Peek-a-Boo”. Oh wait, I know this song. It’s been ages since I’ve heard it and it almost sounds like a different version. This has to be the biggest style shift in their career so far. The accordion?! Anyway it is a pretty great song.

“The Killing Jar” was decent on first listen, onn second listen I wondered if this was a known song or deep cut. Kind of familiar but didn’t do a lot for me. On third listen I realized it is good and I like it. Probably on a Best Of.

“Scarecrow” also passed over me on first listen, but I paid more attention on second. Nice having this to balance out the more pop material so far, although it’s also quite accessible. Kind of enjoy the chorus. Good song. So far so good on this album.

Didn’t we already have a song called “Carousel”? I like it overall, nice change of pace that works as part of the whole. On third listen I’ve realized that musically it reminds me of a Plaid song, which is interesting.

Oh my what is this? “Burn-Up”? More like round-up (sounds like what you’d call a lasso event) or Cowboy BeGoth. This is nuts and totally unexpected. But do I hate it? No. ← Those were my thoughts on first listen. Naturally it’s a lot less jarring on second listen, and it contributes well to the carnival theme I suppose. But I don’t know, gets a little much with the Jack be nimble stuff toward the end and overstays its welcome.

As I’m listening I kind of feel like they needed this change of direction. Something has breathed new life into their sound, which was getting a little flat and treading too much of the same ground. I think this was a first listen observation and I took some notes and reflected on the material up to now while the next song or two were playing in the background, mostly passing me by.

Something at the start of “Ornaments of Gold” was quite familiar, like a Coil song at the turn of the decade…something from Love’s Secret Domain? I don’t know how to describe it, like drum machine loops resulting in a kind of clapping sound. No, wait a minute. As I’m here finalizing this review I’m actually able to check out samples from that Coil album and replaying the beginning of this track trying to nail it down. Think I might have it. The Associates! “Message Oblique Speech” from 1981, that’s exactly it. Not saying it was ripped off of course, but it’s pretty dead-on. Decent song overall, pretty by-the-numbers for SatB. The Associates song, on the other hand, is really great.

“Turn to Stone” is another decent song I don’t have much to say about even after 3 listens. First vocal brought to mind another singer but I can’t place it. Actually, again now that I’m at my desk and can check out samples real quick, it’s Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead. Just that first second of vocal made me think of her. I don’t see how Blonde Redhead would not have been influenced by Siouxsie. I like the synth melody that runs throughout but becomes more obvious toward the end. The bass tone is nice too when you can actually hear it. Better sound now as I’m quickly scanning clips, perhaps? Maybe the song is too layered and I miss the more stripped-down sound.

Now it feels weird to think about my initial thoughts that there was new life in their sound, as these last two songs feel more like treading previously covered ground.

“Rawhead and Bloodybones” is weird. Cute little intro and certainly not terrible, but it’s little more than an interlude. Kinda creepy at the end with what sounds like a crying child.

This album really seems to be fizzling out at this point, with “The Last Beat of My Heart” also being quite slow. It actually feels like their first proper Art Pop song. Not that I was waiting for that, but I’ve seen the label assigned to some previous albums and didn’t think it was quite there. Actually on 3rd listen it’s quite ethereal I guess, like the next track. Could be a closer. Quite bored with the album at this point tbh.

“Rhapsody” is indeed a closer. Ethereal vibes abound. Glad some guitars and drums are introduced around 1:20 to breathe some life into the song. It’s decent but I’m not much a fan of this vocal style and ethereal stuff. It sounds pretty but pretty isn’t what I look for in music. Cocteau Twins for example, couldn’t really be bothered with them from what little I’d heard till I heard their debut album which is great post-punk. There’s only been one album in my life so far I’d refer to as ethereal that I really enjoyed, and that was the Front Line Assembly offshoot project Delerium’s Karma in 1997, because I had some really good times with it on MDMA. Wasn’t ever bothered checking out their other albums.

So Siouxsie and the Banshees weren’t really trend setters at this point were they? Peek-a-Boo and Burn-Up are pretty unique, there are some other tracks I like that blend some previous ground they’ve covered but with a slightly new spin (more polished, accessible but not overly so), and others like Rhapsody where they being in outside influences. The album definitely has a stronger A-side, it’s interesting how the vibe really shifts. Obviously there are moments I like but I’m not prepared to give this a higher score than any of the last few. Just realizing I gave Tinderbox 6/10, and I think this is on par with that.

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We’ll be back next week folks.

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Great, because Superstition is … I won’t say return to form, since it doesn’t come close to the consistency of Juju, but it is generally a whole lot better (to my ears) than anything since (and including) Hyaena.

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Up until the listening club was announced, Superstition was the only other Banshees album I owned besides The Scream. Obviously very different records but imo it’s pretty good, and I think (???) it’s pretty well regarded as a ‘later’ Banshees album overall. Really striking cover, too.

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For some reason I thought we only had one album left but we have TWO!

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And we’re off again!

Superstition is the 10th studio album by English rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees, released in 1991.

The lead single, “Kiss Them for Me,” gave the band its first top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit in the United States, peaking at No. 23, with the album peaking at No. 65 on the Billboard 200 chart.[1] The band widened its musical influences with the arrival of Indian musician Talvin Singh, who played tablas on the songs “Kiss Them for Me” and “Silver Waterfalls.”

(This is the first mention of Talvin I’ve come across. He won the Mercury Music Award in ‘98 for his album OK.)

So here we go with the Banshee’s second last album.

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The Schooly D drum sample that kicks everything off is so thrilling; Kiss Them For Me is such a banger. This album would really benefit from a remaster imo, the production lacks the dynamism it deserves.

[EDIT] Oh wait, there’s a 2014 remaster. Never going to find that, haha. Banshees albums are like hen’s teeth.

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It being an early 90s gothic pop album it shouldn’t be surprising to hear influences like Angelo Badalamenti and late/Fontana years era Cocteau Twins creeping in to some of the songs on Superstition. I actually wondered if Siouxie had ever worked with Badalamenti and she did (!) on the soundtrack for The Edge Of Love in 2008.

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Have played this twice already this week. Can’t remember anything other than Kiss Them for Me, it’s all just washed over me.

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Really? I think it is easily the best of the post-Dreamhouse albums. I know that’s probably not saying much, but I would happily consider it alongside The Scream, maybe Dreamhouse too, when trying to rank their albums.

KTFM is obviously a monster, but more than a couple of the tracks leave with the same impression that Monitor from Juju does — not that they sound similar, but they have this kind of really generic (in a good way) feel to them, like they’ve laid down a commercial rock template that has been used a thousand times, but still feels fresh, because no one has done it as well as the Banshees. Shadowtime, especially, but also Cry and Silly Thing could have been songs on the Killers’ second album, if they hadn’t veered towards Springsteen.

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Superstition
  • Kiss Them for Me
  • Fear (of the Unknown)
  • Cry
  • Drifter
  • Little Sister
  • Shadowtime
  • Silly Thing
  • Got to Get Up
  • Silver Waterfalls
  • Softly
  • The Ghost in You

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the longer this club goes on, the more I realise that the Banshees were a great singles band who only made one solid gold album

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It really looks like once upon a time is all you really need…

I’ll still go to bat for Juju, but an awful lot of the rest is less than essential, isn’t it?

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This could be exactly what contributed to this washing over me. But my first two spins were not fully attentive, I was working part of the time, maybe walking the dog for a few songs, and sometimes playing while my g/f was making dinner and the vent was on. Went through a 3rd listen this morning (walking dog and then driving) and do think I was able to pick up on more this time. It’s certainly not worse than the last few, possibly like it more than Tinderbox and Peepshow…but those are no longer fresh in my mind after the break.

One comment I have in my notes for review is about how in the late 70s they influenced a lot of the 80s sound, essentially creating a template as you say here, but that they didn’t necessarily create a template or influence the 90s sound. Am I wrong? Am I just having a hard time seeing it because the 90s were my formative years and I just haven’t thought much about what exactly influenced the 90s (aside from the punk & electronic angles perhaps). But commercial rock, not that much I guess. Thought if The Cure were in question I might be more likely to say it’s obvious, now that I think about it. And they’re cut from the same cloth.

I’ve intentionally avoided listening to The Killers so can’t relate to that bit.

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Thought about this too today on my 3rd listen of Superstition. Although I do feel 3 or 4 albums are great, I’m tempted to listen to a comp after we get through all the studio albums and see how it feels. I think it’s like most bands really, a few classic albums and the rest could be condensed into a Best Of.

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Not wrong at all. But I kinda feel the same way with the Cure (whom I adore). Wish is fantastic, but by that point, they’re drawing on contemporary sounds rather than setting trends. I guess you could say that The Cure influenced a lot of the emo bands, but I’m not sure in the sense of giving them a template.

At any rate, once I feel that a band’s truly innovative peak has passed, I tend to look more just for consistency of song writing, with a few interesting sounds, rather than anything groundbreaking. Superstition (for me) scores better on that measure than anything since the innovative period, which is why I’m mildly enthusiastic about it.

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What do we think?

Superstition
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0 voters