Kaleidoscope- Siouxsie and the Banshees

Release Year: 1980

Rating: 9/10

The third album from the Banshees hones in on their classic sound and vocals. Gone are the punk-like screams and yells that took over the first two records. Just about all the songs here are awesome and show that during this period the band kept improving their songs, leading up to their best material yet. This album also shows off their clever song writing and wit showing the Banshees knack for writing.

The album starts off with the energetic “Happy House.” It has this cool riff that sounds like it’s being played underwater chiming throughout. Here rather than wailing or screaming the lyrics, Siouxsie actually sings and coos her way through the song. She even whistles the melody at the end, which adds a creepy edge. The song title is a bit misleading on purpose, since it seems to be about trying to ignore the negative aspects of life. It’s a bit creepy, especially when she sings “We’re all quite sane.” You feel like that’s not the case at all. Either way, it’s a great way to begin this stellar album.

The track “Trophy” has drums that sound like a marching band in the intro. It also has a jarring guitar riff that sounds like it’s slightly out of tune. The song is really interesting because it’s actually about trophies. It’s not a metaphor for anything. It talks about the meaning we give to these things just to make ourselves feel accomplished even though they sit around gathering dust. Siouxsie does play around with her vocals a bit here, but it doesn’t sound anything like she did on the first two albums.

The album takes a dip with the track “Hybrid.” It starts off just fine with a droning guitar riff, but after the first verse things get tiring. Everything drones on in the song: the vocals and the music to the point where it gets annoying. The song itself goes on for too long. After three minutes you realize Siouxsie is still going on and on. There are some interesting noises made by a horn that sound like animals howling, but that isn’t enough to save the song.

From there on the songs are fantastic. Not only are they interesting, but they have great music and lyrics too. “Lunar Camel” has low, warped hypnotizing music playing throughout, as if it’s trying to put you in a trance. The vocals follow suit by sounding pretty mesmerizing too. It’s the most odd sounding song on the album, but it’s one of the best. “Christine” is upbeat and has fun playful music, even though the song seems pretty dark. It may be about a woman who cannot figure out who she is. By far, it is the catchiest track on the album. You’ll find yourself singing “Christine, the strawberry girl” before it ends.

Another great track is “Paradise Place.” It has Eastern inspired music; the type to make you wiggle your hips. Siouxsie also does this great chanting, almost yodeling effect after each verse that’s infectious and exotic. It does have an echoing effect that’s out of place and kind of annoying, but it isn’t used much in the song. This track is a cryptic look at the world of plastic surgery and make up, that is “tragic” as Siouxsie points out. It’s a great song with a message that works to this day.

The band’s darkest lyrics may not be found here, but there are some moments that are pretty gruesome. Most of them are found on the track “Skin.” One of the lyrics reads “The only necessary coat carries a brain inside its skull.” Another great line from this song is “Give me your skin, for dancing in.” These are really creepy lyrics, especially if you picture what she’s talking about. Aside from this, there’s some clever wordplay in songs as well. “Redlight,” which has a photography motif, finds Siouxsie using witty phrases like “Kodakwhore” and “shutterslut.” These phrases will make you smile as the hissing music plays in the background. The band was pretty talented at song writing, but this album shows how they were constantly improving their work.

Overall, the album gets 9/10. Not only does it show how the band loved changing their sound ever so slightly, it also shows they were constantly improving their music to make sure it sounded its best. All the songs here are hit. They’re creative, unique, and have the most infectious music. Here, the Banshees are getting closer to the sound they would become known for and Sioux finally finds a singing style that works for her. Truly, this is one of their best releases.


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