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…