Music Review: Siouxsie & the Banshees - Kelidoscope
From the beginning to the end, this album journeys and transitions through The Banshees influences from Glam, Punk and Exotica to Electronica and psychedelia. Steve Severin's interest in Krautrock and Brian Eno, Budgie's Tribal and Disco Influences, Siouxsie's themes of personality crisis, obsession, alienation and all things macabre are mixed here perfectly.
This isn't The Banshees of The Scream and Join Hands. It's an entirely new band with the same name and the beginning of a long lasting triad who's ability to play off each others talents and weaknesses produced some of the 1980s best music.
There is a hangover feeling to much of this album, slightly sick, slightly burnt out, but most importantly, the sense of starting over. It's the only album Siouxsie and the Banshees have recorded prior or since that shows off their ability to make magic from the tragic and shows off their ability to be truly innovative within their limitations. Just consider where their music went after this period. Yes, JuJu is the "critics" choice, but Kaleidoscope is the music geek's choice by far and the last album where you will hear Siouxsie's voice without a gigantic wash of reverb.
She is in her best form here, at times sounding sinister and at times, as in Hybrid and Lunar Camel sounding completely sweet and young. This album is like a big gigantic Siouxsie Crush! It's not an easily classifiable album, nor should it be. Covering so much ground and producing some of their best songs, this album is just like the title, a kaleidoscope. But keep in mind, they knew very well what they were doing here! This is not an amateur transitional album. It's a forceful, intelligent and gigantic leap forward from their brooding primal angst.
My three personal favorites are Clockface, Desert Kisses and Paradise Place.
Clockface, if you ask me, is the quintessential New Wave song. No words, just vocalizations, dissonant instrumentation and just completely odd.
Desert Kisses is lush. The fusion of Synthesizers with Vocals is seamless in the chorus and only really noticed when listening with headphones. It also features one of Siouxsie's best lyrics.
"Sinking down, the world is flat. There's no one here to question that."
It completely captures the sense of Philosophical isolation and hopelessness.
You can try as you will to keep yourself intact, to keep on going despite your illusions but there's nobody there to help you...WOW! In one simply executed lyric it speaks volumes about a complete Philosophical rut!
Paradise Place is probably one of Budgie's best performances as a drummer. Specifically because of the transition from a frantic almost a-rhythmic beat into a straight up Disco beat. Mix that with Siouxsie's mantra of OOOHs, guitar and bass that are so drunk and hypnotic it leaves you with an odd feeling of excitement and weakness. Completely brilliant!
To sum it up, this ensemble of rotating guitarists and the strong triad of Siouxsie, Steve and Budgie make Kaleidoscope the strangest and most interesting album the Banshees have ever recorded. Buy it!
- Michael Martarano
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