Alternative Press ('88)

Siouxsie and the Banshees
Geffen Records

by Glenn Gamboa

Once again Siouxsie Sioux is seemingly trapped. On the one hand are hordes of adoring fans that could be lost at the first sign of pop leanings. On the other side is that vast land of pop happiness, and a word that is strictly verboten: success. What's a self-respecting Banshee to do?

Once again the band hedges their bets with Peepshow. This time they go for a lighter treatment of their usually mystical topics, and as has been the case for their past few releases, they include one unabashed pop song.

The difference is their strong songs have gotten stronger, and their pop song this time out is a real doozy.

"Peek-a-Boo" reveals a band that has not been seen in a long time. On this one, Siouxsie tramps through the funky land that her pals the Cure wandered through last year with "Hot! Hot! Hot!" and produces pure pop pleasure with a typically Siouxsie edge. Her off-kilter vocals and what sounds like accordian riffs drive this beat-based dance track along. Not surprisingly, the song has caught on like wildfire, entering the college charts in the top 10.

To hear an entire LP of "Peek-a-Boo" like material would have catapulted the band straight to the top. But it seems like they decided to hold back. Not that Peep Show isn't worthwhile, it's just that you wonder how many of these nuggets 'ol Siouxsie has tucked away in that spiky hairdo.

The album has its moments. "The Killing Jar" is a fiesty track of midtempo Siouxsie stuff. "Carousel" is a hauntingly alluring track with its sparse calliope like backing, as is "Ornaments of Gold". "Burn Up" finds Siouxsie and the boys in a gear we haven't seen since "Spellbound". The song romps along in a punked-up hoedown, before kicking into overdrive for a thrashy ending that brings the house down.

Peepshow is a compromise album, the battle of to pop or not to pop will be waged another day. But few compromises have ever been so compelling, and it may turn out to be a big success anyway. Then what'll they do?                                 

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