Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Siouxsie & The Banshees - Hyaena (1984)


  

Released on 8 June 1984

Running time 44.15

Two years after the thoroughly excellent, innovative "A Kiss In The Dreamhouse", the now established as avant-garde art rockers were back with another clever, inventive and creative arty album. It is notable for its orchestration. Indeed a 27-piece orchestra is used on the opening track. Also, Robert Smith of The Cure replaced John McGeogh on guitar (the latter had suffered from exhaustion/alcoholism and left the band in 1982, which was a pity). Smith would only play this one album with the band.

The album simultaneously dreamy, airy, arty and poppy, while still containing some of the old post punk guitar riffs and bleak lyrics. Much of the material was still very unique, however and, as now seemed par for the course, ground-breaking.

TRACK LISTING

1. Dazzle
2. We Hunger
3. Take Me Back
4. Belladonna
5. Swimming Horses
6. Bring Me The Head Of The Preacher Man
7. Running Town
8. Pointing Bone
9. Blow The House Down                                          

"Dazzle" begins with the sumptuous strings of the afore-mentioned orchestra before the track breaks out into a fast-paced post punk-ish number. Still enhanced by sweeping strings, the drums roll and Siouxsie's voice soars above it all. This was the most adventurous song they had ever done. It is grandiose and magnificent. "We Hunger" has a post-punky riff and drum sound and a bit of a new romantic melody together with a suitably haughty vocal from Siouxsie. "Take Me Back" is a shuffling, rhythmic number enhanced by seductive backing vocals and some genuinely quirky bits. There is something vaguely jazzy about it. Material like this is a long way from those heady punk days.

"Belladonna" is a most fetching, sensual number for a once bleak, industrial-sounding band. "Daylight devours your unguarded hours..." sings Siouxsie, almost wistfully. This is as disarming as she and indeed the band had ever sounded. It is all rather dreamily poetic. The music is smoother and deprived of its previous hard edges. You even get a Beatles-esque brass bit at the end. It extremely melodic and they sound like a completely different band. The same can be said of the delightful, jerky and beguiling "Swimming Horses". Man, what a great track this is, one of the group's best ever. Check out those piano interjections and syncopated drums. Siouxsie's vocal is up there with her best ever.


"Bring Me The Head Of The Preacher Man" is wonderfully atmospheric, with the strings used to great effect, conjuring up Eastern sounds and there are also Spaghetti-Western style acoustic guitars and backing vocals in there. It is a remarkable track. "Running Down" has echoes of previous material, but it also has some rollicking melodic keyboards, making it another infectiously catchy number. It is gothic pop but with a new colour to it - not just black and white. "Pointing Bone" is more in the vein of the fast-paced post punk pop we had been used to since 1980.

"Blow The House Down" has dark echoes of 1981's "Juju" but it still floats in and out of various changes and a features a myriad of instrumental sounds. It swirls with mystery. Listen the bit where the madcap violin comes in after six minutes. Excellent but bizarre stuff. The bonus hit single, their cover of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" would have seemed to have made made for The Banshees. This album is often overlooked when "best of" lists are being compiled. Make no mistake, this was definitely one of their best.

B+

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