Siouxsie – Mantaray

Siouxsie Sioux has been making music since1977 or so but Mantaray is her first solo album. Her last album with The Creatures, “Hai!”, was marked by meandering lyrics and over-produced vocals. Mantaray is a real return to form with much more focussed songwriting and a clearer voice.

Much has been made in reviews of the personal nature of the lyrics on this album compared to Siouxsie’s work with The Banshees and The Creatures. I’m not sure about that. If songs about bees and oceans are personal then songs about deceptive lovers and new found freedom might be impersonal. The album has all of these.

This is a good album but there are two things I would bemoan. Both are a product of the economics of this album, which seems aimed squarely at the American, probably college radio, market.

The first is Siouxsie’s newly Americanized pronunciation. She slips in and out of ts as ds on the same track and it detracts from the power of the vocals. I love both English and American accents but I prefer one or the other from the same person on the same song and from someone who has sung in the former for so long the latter can be jarring.

The second is the instrumentation. It is slick, polished, soulless content. I can see the producers brainstorming each track: “this one should be punky, this one grungy, this one a torch song”. Siouxsie’s vocals deserve much more than such safe corporate lullabies as backing.

This is a strong enough album that hopefully the next one will give Siouxsie the room to experiment that produced the sound that drew the corporate zombies on the mixing desk to her in the first place.

Compared to past glories this is only as good as Superstition, but much better than Anima Animus. Even just Siouxsie as content would be much, much better than no Siouxsie at all. And this is not just Siouxsie as content. A new found strength indeed…

4 replies on “Siouxsie – Mantaray”

How could Siouxsie’s accent be americanized ? She lives in France for years. How could mantaray marketed for US college radio ? She toured in UK, France, Germany.

Left you a link to an interview with Siouxsie were she discusses the production of Mantaray. Perhaps you should know more before commenting on it’s “slick, polished, soulless content.” Mantaray has great punk sensiblity and yet shows maturity and sophitication.

Punk was thirty years ago. It is now a marketing term for dross like Green Day. Siouxsie has never looked back before, and I don’t think she looks back on “Mantaray”. I just think that the carefully chosen range of pre-existing musical styles, the interviews where she discusses the production of the album, and the language used to describe it all show that the content industry has tried to claim her.
I don’t think it has succeeded lyrically, but musically speaking the edges have been sanded off then stuck back on by the traditional pair of producers.
Siouxsie deserves better, particularly when her lyrics and voice are so much stronger here than with The Creatures.
But even the music has grown on me. It may be all that is possible at this cultural and economic moment. I saw Siouxsie on “Later With Jools Holland” performing a couple of tracks from the album and that really brought them alive. And repeated listening to the album (it bears repeated listening) has given me a greater appreciation of it.

Siouxsie is one of the Punk Rock pillars… she was on the surge of it with The Sex Pistols.
The thing is, I never thought about Siouxsie’s music as “influenced”, cause all I’ve known from her work (and I don’t know much about her work with the Creatures) is all-new!
I do believe she’s creative and strong (economically) enough to have made this album as special as she wanted it to be… after all this is her first solo since she’s a music artist.
Although I don’t agree that the album is aimed at US college kids, I do agree the words do come out clear as the day… this maybe and I’m sorry to say this, because of age. Singing is a concentration and preparation process… and ageing does affect in its way. So she could have found this technique. I say this ’cause I remember vividly the “Dreamshow” at the Royal Festival Hall with the Millennia Ensemble when she got voice problems due to the “artic wind” due to the lame Royal Hall managers.
Anyway… I do love this new album, and it did surprise me as much as when I first heard “Rapture”.

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