Astonishingly, this is Siouxsie Sioux’s debut solo album...
Tim Nelson 2007
Astonishingly, this is Siouxsie Sioux’s debut solo album after a career of thirty years with the Banshees. In a recent interview, the fifty-year old singer was quoted as saying 'The past is a total obsession with the media. I’ve always been more excited about what I’m doing right now'.
With Mantaray, she decisively breaks free of the past’s dead hand, but there’s something reassuringly old-fashioned about the fact that this is a proper album, dynamically sequenced and moving through themes of loss, pain and fantastic mutation before coming to its cosmic conclusion. The opening PJ-Harvey esque “Into a Swan” lays down the gauntlet and its high standards are maintained on “About to Happen” which riffs on like a warped cousin of The Knack’s “My Sharona.” “Here Comes that Day” sees evil Aunt Siouxsie pays a visit to Candie Payne to remind her what “pop noir” is really all about, and if the vocals here and elsewhere don’t always quite match up to the Goldfrapp/Beth Gibbons territory she is hurtling through, then the next track, the nagging “Loveless”, serves as a potent reminder of this post-punk stingray’s continuing ability to drive her hooks deep.
At the midway point, the lyrics 'If it doesn’t kill you, it will shape you. If it doesn’t break you it will make you. Don’t be afraid', effectively sum up the album’s themes, although there are plenty of surprises in the second half of the album as the former Susan Ballion leads a variety of hybrids across the sonic terrain to the accompaniment of Joe-Meek-as-zombie fairground keyboards and writhing guitar reminiscent both of Adrian Belew and Can’s Michael Karoli. As the beautiful and stately “Heaven and Alchemy” wakes us from this dream of escape into a long-promised fabulous universe of desire at the album’s end, we might pause briefly to wish the bioengineered banshee from Bromley many happy returns.