Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Albums of 1982: Siouxie and the Banshees: A Kiss in the Dreamhouse


Release Date: 5 November 1982

Members: Siouxie Sioux (vocals); Steven Severin (bass); John McGeoch (guitar, keyboards); Budgie (percussion)

Produced by Siouxie and the Banshees

Track List: Side One: Cascade; Green Fingers; Obsession; She's a Carnival; Circle

Side Two: "Melt!"; Painted Bird; Cocoon; Slowdive

The fifth album by Siouxie and the Banshees, A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, continued to expand their post-punk sound into neo-psychedelia. 

"Cascade" opens the record in dark but alluring note, love as both a destructive and instructive. Infectious bass hooks and Sioux's powerful and futuristic vocal creates a electric atmosphere of struggling through fog and woe. The psychedelia of "Green Fingers" creates a Sci-Fi type of power. "Obsession" takes the view of a possessed lover, a set-up for a Hitchcock film. The verses appear to switch point of view from the obsessive one and the one being stalked, but sometimes blurs. Spoken word, sensual, and haunting in delivery the track creates a sensual murkiness.  "She's a Carnival" follows another mysterious woman seducing and poisoning all she meets, the carnival atmosphere of the song adds to the fantastical grip of the record. "Circle" offers searing social commentary:

Pretty girl of 16 - has fun and runs crazy
Ruined girl of 16 -- like mother grows lazy
Next a 16 year old baby -- like mother grows lazy

The song comments on how cycles of abuse and lost potential are perpetuated by parents to children. It takes on a despairing sound the chorus repeats, but there are always off ramps if one has the courage and knowledge to take them. It's also a critique of the nuclear family and how it serves to reinforce bad tradition and patriarchal attitudes. 

"Melt!" is a swinging dark love song, returning to the theme of possession. "Painted Bird" uses bird imagery as a metaphor for human personality. "Cocoon" seems to be a metaphor for creativity, taking refuge for regeneration, "tapping out rhythms." There's a cabaret style to the song through a post-punk approach. "Slowdive" closes the album, emerging from the cocoon and taking on everything. 

A Kiss in the Dreamhouse still sounds modern in sound and theme 40 years later.

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