W14 / UNIVERSAL 17.9.07

Siouxsie’s voice has been steadying and deepening. Not a voice that moves me, it is one that commands. Like Nico before her, it pins you to the wall and tells you w2hat to do. It’s a long long time since she was that punkette behind the Sex Pistols in the infamous Bill Grundy interview. Deadpanning that she’d always wanted to meet the chatshow host, she inadvertently triggered the ‘you dirty old man, what a rotter’ comments that led down the happy road to loads of swearing and media ubiquity. And for that we thank her. Through the ensuing years she passed through some gawdawful performances to Siouxsie and The Banshees. Her imposing presence and poise, allied with the strongest image this side of David Bowie kept the cheekbone lady on the telly. Experimentation took them beyond the goth stereotypes they helped to create. Work with Budgie, the Banshee’s drummer saw tribal rhythms tied to her declamatory voice.

Mantaray shifts between industrial weight rhythms to showtune stylings, dressed with horns. A lot of the time the songs and tunes fail to grab but they are adorned in finery and create a brocaded atmosphere. It’s a rich red coloured space to relax in and inhabit. A glockenspiel tracks out the middle eight of Loveless as Siouxsie almost croons, in an Ice Queen way. I’m reminded of the shift in hapless Ian Curtis’ voice on Love Will Tear Us Apart, as he tries to absorb and mimic what he heard in the Sinatra album he’d been lent the night before. It’s not shot through with meaning or rhythm but is consciously worked to a rich and constant instrument. If It Doesn’t Kill You has flavours in delivery of a Shirley Bassey theme tune. Lyrics feel to me like window dressing for the voice, like the words of an observer, not a participant. They conjure up drifting glimpses of emotions dimly remembered as faded passion.

One Mile Below has some of the skittering beats of Budgie work and some crunching guitar. Drone Zone passes time pleasantly and evolves into a jazz walk. Follow You ses her trying to twist her voice pleasingly and the crooning comes off well – loose and swinging. Heaven and Alchemy sees Siouxsie The Vamp turning a simplistic song into a late night reflection with a rolling bass line.

More a place-marker and reminder of her presence than the challenging listen of earlier in her career, I was pleased to hear the smoky voice still in action.

Ross McGibbon