Monday, 3 December 2018

Siouxsie & The Banshees - Juju (1981)

  

Released August 1981

"Post Punk" was, by 1981, pretty credible. Joy Division, Ultravox!, Simple Minds, Echo & The Bunnymen, U2, Doll By Doll, Magazine, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, New Order and Gang Of Four were just some leading the way in guitar-driven earnestly morose, bleak, "industrial" music. Another who should be added to that list, particularly with the release of this seminal album of grungy, piercing, searing guitars, tribal drums, haughty, arch vocals and swirling keyboards is Siouxsie & The Banshees. This was when they completely threw off their "punk" chains and became "gothic" post-punkers.

From being "the high priestess of punk", Siouxsie Sioux now became the first "goddess of goth" as a new genre/sub-culture was born. Guitarist John McGeoch had previously been at the vanguard of post punk with Joy Division and Magazine. He, along with drummer Budgie's rhythmic contributions produced a veritable dismal wall of sound. The rumbling bass sound is excellent throughout the album too.

TRACK LISTING

1. Spellbound
2. Into The Light
3. Arabian Nights
4. Halloween
5. Monitor
6. Night Shift
7. Sin In My Head
8. Head Cut
9. Voodoo Lounge

Sioux's vocals and lyrics are arty, depressing, creepy and disturbing at times, especially on tracks like the unnerving "Head Cut", "Voodoo Dolly" and "Halloween". "Spellbound" is a cascading, bristling but brooding opener, and "Arabian Nights" is marvellously atmospheric. It has a tuneful chorus, but elsewhere in it are various weird noises and paranoia acted out aurally. There are all sorts of claustrophobic undertones to the whole album. "Into The Light" brings brief relief, but basically this is not an uplifting album. It is a dense, intense, dark creation to be listened to on dark winter days. Just check out the sombre, fuzzy tones of "Night Shift" or the staccato rhythms of "Monitor".  It has been hugely inflluential in subsequent years, it has to be said. It was genuinely trail-blazing.

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