Universal, 2007

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


The gothic goddess of punk rock Siouxsie Sioux has returned. For those fans who had written her off, think again.

She has stepped away, perhaps permanently, from her bands the Banshees and the Creatures, and is now -- at long last -- a solo artist in her own right. Though edgy as ever, Siouxsie has wisely opted for a mainstream sound in hopes of winning new listeners. Joining the likes of Annie Lennox and Deborah Harry, Siouxsie is not afraid to challenge the establishment, which is currently suffering from an unfortunate case of ageism. If anything, these three women are showing the up and coming, run-of-the-mill pop starlets how it’s really done.

First of all, I love the artwork that comes with this album. Siouxsie looks beguilingly gorgeous on the cover, which is one of the most colorful in recent memory. I also appreciate the fact that Siouxsie always includes a lyric sheet, so we can see what a great songwriter she is. As for the music, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that 8 of the 10 songs are above average. The other two (“If It Doesn’t Kill You” and “Heaven And Alchemy”) are weaker because of the somewhat dreary tone and pacing. While I wouldn’t necessarily call them boring, they just don’t give off the same impact as the other tracks. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “Pain That I’m Used To,” the lead-off single “Into A Swan” contains plenty of rough and heavy sounding guitars. Thankfully, though, they aren’t disruptive here, nor do they overwhelm Siouxsie’s distinctive vocal -- which is in fine form. She sings “I’m on the verge of an awakening / a new kind of strength for me” with such conviction, you know she means every word. Siouxsie is like a phoenix rising up from the ashes and it is a sight to behold. Consider it a lesson in how to properly ride the ebb and flow of the cycles of life.

Following in breathless succession, there are many other amazing cuts to be found on Mantaray, each one blending multiple genres of music to create an original sound of Siouxsie’s own creative design. Her art shines through on the more experimental tunes, most notably “Drone Zone.” The most thrilling stretch is in the first four songs, all of which are definite keepers. It’s almost as if she has taken the best elements from her past career and tweaked them to fit her present state of being.

Equally as exciting are the upbeat “One Mile Below” and “They Follow You,” both of which would have been right at home on the Banshees’ brilliant Peepshow and Superstition albums.

It should be interesting to see how Mantaray stacks up against her fellow competitors when it comes time to announce our favorite 2007 picks. In my book, Siouxsie is giving Prince a run for his money for comeback album of the year. In any event, Siouxsie  has every right to be proud of the effort she has put forth this time around.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Universal, and is used for informational purposes only.