Somewhere between novelty and new wave is where I once imagined the music of Siouxsie & The Banshees to be. Their music seemed to have come from the same dark place as the Cure, but unlike Robert Smiths cute feline overtures, Siouxsie & The Banshees always maintained a sinister, almost scary edge about their music.
With names like Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severth and Budgie, the bands members names sounded like the roster of a clown act, but there was nothing particularly funny about songs lyrics that like the Cure would occasionally cast children as little minions of evil. It was a refreshing concept during a less politically correct time and was made all the more palatable thanks to elaborate and stylish music videos.
Unlike other goth/new wave rocks bands like The Damed, Siouxsie & The Banshees would wrap their sound in a rich layered tapestry of guitars and percussive sounds. The effect was not unlike the Cocteau Twins, but not nearly as delicate or pristine.
All of the spook and splendor would come together nicely on the band’s 7th album Tinderbox. recorded in Berlin, the band’s wall of noise sound would get a makeover. John Valentine Carruthers, a new guitarist joined the band and with him came a new emphasis on rhythmic percussion. Despite the new guitarist, the band’s sound was no longer guitar centered as it had been in the past.
Synthesizers had entered the bands musical toolbox bringing a new pop oriented edge to The Banshee’s gloom. Tenderbox was the first Siouxsie & The Banshees album to break in the U.S. with two hits with ‘Cities In Dust’ and Candyman’. Before that there were routine playlist additions to countless college radio stations.
For a band that had been around since the dawn of punk, Siouxsie & The Banshees was sounding very contemporary and no doubt was an influence on ’90s bands like Curve and Vast.
The band continued on a trajectory of critically acclaimed music that found acceptance on the pop charts in Europe and America.
Darkwave or goth pop or whatever it was being called was not new, but Siouxsie & The Banshees managed to carve a niche for themselves by updating a formula they had stuck to since 1976.