The second album from Siouxsie and the Banshees was only released a year after their debut The Scream and while there are not major changes in their sound, there are some subtle ones that differentiate between the two. This album still has the Punk sensibility along with some punk vocals from Siouxsie Sioux, but this time around there are some Gothic elements strewn throughout the album that finds the band experimenting more with their sound.
You can hear the Gothic elements in the opening track “Poppy Day.” It’s a short song with an intro riff that’s brooding and moody as if setting the tone for the entire album. When you first listen to the song it’s hard to understand what Sioux is singing, but when you do figure out the lyrics you see that the song is actually pretty bleak with mention of poppies marking off the dead. It’s a great way to open the album. It really sets the mood of the record.
While the songs are pretty good and at least entertaining most of them just don’t really stand out. A song like “Regal Zone” is really good, but there’s nothing about it that makes it memorable. The best song on the album is probably “Placebo Effect.” It has a good rhythm and beat that gets you moving thanks to the jarring guitar riff. The song about the over medication of society gets kind of creepy with dark lyrics like “You dip your hands into my flesh/and say you won’t reveal a scar.” Unlike most of the songs on the album, this track will definitely stay with you.
As mentioned before, the band plays around with Gothic elements more on this album. Songs like “Playground Twist” have haunting toll bells ringing throughout the track, while others like “Premature Burial” play around with dark, creepy themes. Not only do the Gothic elements occur in the music, they occur in the lyrics as well. A lot of the songs have dark, disturbing images in them. The line “Crusted orbs of glitter, scepters gleam/while helmets of blood fill the scene” is found in the jarring track “Regal Zone.” The images are more disturbing because you can actually picture them in your head. These Gothic elements make the album more brooding and moody than their previous effort. The songs aren’t as fast and don’t have a lot of energy like the ones on their first album. Some of the songs even drag out a bit with how slow the pace is. For some songs the slow pace works really well, while for others it just drags the song out in the worst way possible.
Most of the album is pretty solid, even a bit more focused than their previous effort, but it kind of comes apart with the last two songs. “Mother/Oh Mein Papa” is an interesting track, but it’s kind of hard to understand what’s going on because the tinkling music box tune takes over the whole track. Also, the singing overlaps one another as if five singers are going at once, which makes it hard to keep up with the song. The final track “The Lord’s Prayer” is an ambitious song that starts off with an awesome burst of energy for this interesting and innovative take on the prayer. But when we hit the five minute mark on this 13 minute track it starts to come apart. It loses focus and becomes a song full of random yells, yodels, and yelps that goes on for way too long. The track is probably better in a live setting, but it just doesn’t work here.
Overall the album gets 8/10. This doesn’t seem to be an album you’ll fall in love with right away. It has to grow on you. The more you listen to it, the more you appreciate it. There are some good tracks here and even though the singing is still pretty wild, there are palces where it is more focused. There are a couple of tracks that may not be for everyone, but if anything this album proves how the Banshees are not afraid to experiment with their sound and push their boundaries, which would benefit them on later work.