Release Year: 1983
Siouxsie and the Banshees were never shy about changing their sound, but Sioux and Budgie take things to a completely different place with this project. Inspired by their trip to Hawaii, all of the songs have a tropical vibe and mood to them, something that didn’t come up much in The Banshees. It doesn’t really seem like an album at all, rather an experience. This becomes clear on the opening track “Morning Dawning.” It begins with wailing and what sounds like chanting from a creepy cult. This leads to soothing sounds of ocean waves crashing and a wind chime playing in the breeze. After setting the relaxing mood, Siouxsie’s haunting singing becomes clear. It mixes the soothing sounds of nature with eerie singing for a chilling effect.
This tropical vibe continues for the rest of the album and comes out best on the track “Festival of Colors.” It has more native chanting backed with upbeat music that gets you dancing. From the energetic music and the way she sings “shake your serpent thrashing hair” this track was made for an outdoor party. It makes you feel pretty good after hearing it. “Gecko” is a bit of a strange song. With all the animal and flower imagery it sounds like a track made for educational shows. Sioxusie has a spoken word style for the verse as she talks about the gecko and “giant sized flowers,” which turns into singing during the chorus. It’s pretty strange but grows on you after a while. “Ice House” is another track with intense tribal drumming, island vibes, and weird lyrics. There’s a lot of erotic themes going on, but they sound pretty strange: “Erogenous touch/Of brother and sister/The ice retains life no offspring to bear/Phallic flower/Etched into my memory/A feline form on a frosted pane.” Still, it’s a very raw, naked song and though it gets odd, it’s very satisfying.
While most of the songs are good, there are a few that are atmospheric and don’t warrant repeat listens. One is the instrumental track “Inoa’ole,” which means “no name” in Hawaiian. It has native chanting paired with stark, scratchy music giving it a jarring sound. Midway through Siouxsie joins in with the chanting while the tropical mood takes over the song. In the scope of the entire album it works, but not really something to listen to on its own. “Sky Train” is another song that doesn’t work well outside the record. It’s all rapid fire tribal percussion and random wails from Siouxsie. It’s like the music is trying to replicate the chugging of a speeding train. There is some occasional singing, but most of the song is instrumental. It has great energy and a hopping rhythm; it may not be something you want to listen to repeatedly.
The best track on the album and the only single is “Miss the Girl.” Everything about it is so infectious: the simple, yet memorable hook and the playful marimba music. This what makes the song stand out and continues with the tropical trend. Even though the vibe is bright and bouncy, there are some dark references in the lyrics to domestic violence: “You didn’t miss the girl/You hit the girl/You hit her with a force of steel/She’s wrapped around your burning wheels.” The closing tracks “A Strutting Rooster” and “Flesh” are…well, they’re there. The former repeats an ancient Hawaiian riddle for the lyrics and similar to some of the other tracks, it’s not bad. Just not necessarily something you want to hear on a regular basis. “Flesh” is flat out strange. It begins with slurping sounds followed loud banging and background chatter. Siouxsie spends most of the song reciting what sounds like sexual poetry while the chorus rings out “oh piggy squeals and donkey bray — at a sober party/doggy barks and horsey neighs — try to shock the party.” It seems like one of those songs trying to have a big concept, yet goes over most listeners’ heads.
Feast is an interesting, yet odd experience. Siouxsie and Budgie stray far from their Banshees sound bringing in tropical elements and influences. The album shows how the were comfortable changing it up and going beyond their musical capacity. They took the experimentation front the Banshees and pushed it even further here. The album has plenty of shining moments, but it’s definitely something you have to be in the mood for. With a lot of the atmospheric music, sexual themes, and wild chanting it’s not something you always want to hear aside from one or two songs. And while the music is good, it can be off-putting to fans used to the Banshees. Whether or not you like it, you can at least appreciate a band trying to go beyond their sound and exploring other avenues.