The Advocate (2.7.95)

"They're ba-a-ack..."

by J.V. McAuley

Siouxsie and the Banshees' oh-so-boho  fans know that the band's trademark sound consists of mystery, melancholy, and mayhem--required qualities for die-hard pupils of punk. The same sorts of inconsistencies are definitely in place of the group's latest release, RAPTURE. What's lacking, though, is the infectious euphoria that Siouxsie was always able to convey. Perhaps a more apropos label  for this release would be RAPTURE-FREE.

On the title cut of the CD, you're invited into a nicely orchestrated experimental jam session with a vibe that's intially hard to get a hold of. One minute you feel the band trying to convey a flowing sense of serenity, and the next it's like you're all holed up in a dank, dark opium den with barely a candle flickereing. Confused and impatient, you want to ask, "Hey Siouxsie, what gives?"

Then the rhythm picks up, and you find you're entering a comfort zone (or as comforting as Siouxsie can be), as though she has taken you into her lap and begun to stroke your aching head. But just as the vibe begins to saturate your soul, offering a soothing sense of understanding, you get the feeling Siouxsie has fallen asleep while rubbing your head and has poked you in the eye by mistake. You're now at a tricky juncture, left trying to figure out who's more tired at this point--you or the music makers. What could have been a nourishing experience becomes one of claustrophobia.

There are a few cuts on the release that conjure up the Siouxsie of the past. On "Not Forgotten" the group comes together with a well-timed dark tune eerily evoking an image of the Irish spirits the band is named for, complete with Siouxsie wailing through a haunting ending.

On "Fall From Grace"--an ironic title, considering RAPTURE--you almost see Siouxsie, head hung in shame, repentant for the title track, and you want to assure her that she hasn't fallen yet. And on "The Double Life," she seems to be singing directly from the gay experience. The song opens with the words "At the top of the stairs is a locked room, my secret chamber, that no outsider views/Behind the door is my other self." It perfectly sets her up as a gay listeners confidant in the struggle to overcome a double life.

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