Siouxsie may have hit the wrong side of 50 earlier this year, but her voice isn’t even close to showing signs of age. If anything, it’s improving like a fine wine, as rich and dark as the hypnotic voodoo melodies you’ll find throughout Mantaray.
It doesn’t seem right somehow that this is her first official solo album. She’s one of those people who has always embodied her bands more than the bands themselves, rising above The Banshees and The Creatures to confine them to the Sleeper Bloke piles of rock history.
But her first official solo release this is, unless you count the live album and DVD of her tour performing Banshees and Creatures tracks without them, but just in case you were wondering, we don’t.
Much has been made of Mantaray’s doom-laden motifs being a reaction to Siouxsie’s recent divorce and business split from long-time lover and musical collaborator Budgie, but it’s not a miserable album, more a Gothic cabaret for the 21st century. There are hints of Weimar Republic music hall, and certainly all the bits of it that 70s Glam borrowed, but there are also big chorus and booming chords.
Mantaray is also an album filled with singles that should be instant hits, such as Into A Swan, which preceded the album, Here Comes That Day and album closer Heaven & Alchemy. They’re full, rich and dark like chocolate rather than the shadows. This is an album that’s throwing off its shackles and seizing the day with both hands, not feeling the weight of the world on its shoulders.
As is the sign of any great album, it’s harder to list what tracks don’t warrant a special mention that to think which ones do. The haunting Loveless, with its fabulous glockenspiel solo, for example, or the incredibly beautiful If It Doesn’t Kill You. And they all get better with each additional listen, encouraging you to come back with a dirty smile and a naughty wink thrown from the shadows.
Heavy strings, booming drums, Spanish brass and Siouxsie’s fabulous voice combine to draw you in to a dark, shadowy, candlelit underground club filled with voodoo blues that will lull you into their hypnotic trance, run their fingers down your spine and then tease the living daylights out of you until you surrender to her charms. This is the music break-ups should be made of.