She's a carnival....
Released on 5 November 1982
Running time 37.45
This was a bit of a ground-breaking album for one-time industrial, buzzy guitar-driven punks Siouxsie & The Banshees. Why, they used strings on this one and started to experiment even more than they had on their two previous, the art-rock of Kaleidoscope and the highly-influential post punky Juju. This album is more a continuation of the former. The band showed by now, once and for all, that they were far more than simply nihilistic, anarchic punks, there are considerable subtleties, soundscapes and nuances on here and Siouxsie's voice, once almost atonal and sonorous now shows variety and invention. It had become an extra instrument.
I prefer this album to the more edgy, paranoid, industrial post punk of Juju. There is more experimentation, innovation and different styles, making it a far more interesting offering, for me. It is a shift from the darkness of that album to a more airy, expanded sound and ambience.
2. Green Fingers
4. She's A Carnival
7. Painted Bird
Cascade kicks off the album with a mysterious, low-key guitar and Sioux's smoky voice before it crashes into a song that sweeps and swirls like the cascades of the title. The razor sharp acoustic guitar and some sumptuous bass and keyboards make for a delicious cornucopia of sound. Coming at the height of post punk and New Romanticism, this blew a big hole in both genres. It had the sombre feeling of the former mixed with the liveliness, peacock-finery of the latter. It is a mighty track. The band's sound is retrospectively labelled as "alternative". At the time it was actually petty unique.
Green Fingers has a beguiling, Joy Division-style bass line and keyboard riff. Sioux's voice on here is still full of character but it has lost a lot of the "shoutiness" of her early, admittedly still good, recordings. this is just diverse, different stuff and very impressive it is too. Obsession is a doomy, overwhelming dirge of a track, but in a good way. It is marvellously gloomy and full of interesting percussion sounds. It is strangely sexy, however. The band would have produced nothing like this in 1977-78. She's A Carnival is lively, upbeat and almost commercial (for The Banshees, anyway). The pace doesn't let up from the outset, with some frantically-strummed guitar, pounding drums and a huge, rumbling bass line. Siouxsie's voice is now tuneful and in many ways, even a little bit endearing.
Circle is backed with some metronomic drumming and Siouxsie's vocal is a sort of stream of consciousness while the bass just pounds deep into your brain. It is one of the more dense, impenetrable numbers on the album. It ends with some Beatles-esque synthesised brass sounds, which would have been hard to imagine on the band's first two albums. Melt! is a European-influenced number, reminiscent of The Stranglers' material from around the same period. Painted Bird is an infectious, pacy number with all sorts of interesting instrumentation floating around and many changes of pace. Cocoon finds the band going sort of futuristic jazz with Siouxsie breathing out her vocals over an intoxicating, quirky little bass line. It is a most unusual and appealing track.
Slowdive has a beguiling beat and ambience, sort of dance-y in a New Order way. All very modern alternative dance. It was a track quite ahead of its time and possibly the album's best one. This was overall a very good album, one that may not have been as influential as Juju, but was certainly, in my view, way ahead of its time, compared to a lot of other albums from 1982. There was a lot of creativity on show here.