Never Heard of 'Em
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
So this is an awkward question, but... where are the banshees? I was kind of excited about them. I'm feeling a little bit let down. This is neat: I appreciate smart-sounding rock (punk? Still awash in the genre ocean over here) with a slight British accent, and good lord, I can actually understand the lyrics, so I don't feel like such a grandma. But no wailing! Just regular lady-singing. And normal instruments. And no surprises.
Listening to this was easy, so writing about it is hard. I'm not particularly confused, and this music doesn't sound all that strange. So I think this may be the time to have a conversation I've been meaning to have...
Context matters, and unless I spend the next decade nerding out real hard, I'm not going to understand the context for a lot of this cool-kid music of history. A lot of the charm of these albums, like lots of art, originally came from not having heard (or seen) anything like them ever before. If you (like me) got on the train 20 years later and heard stuff that they inspired, then they don't have the same edge now.
It reminds me of when my friend read Dracula for the first time. Even though she knew that the book was the original introduction to the character, his identity is completely entrenched in her brain. So a character would be like, "Oh, hey, I'm gonna head over to that Dracula guy's dark ruined castle tonight; apparently he needs a real-estate agent," and she'd think, "What the fuck? Dude! HIS NAME IS COUNT DRACULA! Why are you falling for this?" But this was the OG vampire, and they all had no idea. It made for quite the unsatisfying read.
That said, I definitely have some recommendations for when to listen to Juju: on the bus after a really awkward conversation, when you're lost in thought and slightly depressed; on a rainy night at home when you feel all agitated and sort of lion-y, pacing the cage of shit weather; when you get an arty itch and decide to make some really weird paintings that'll freak out your roommates. Also, there's a timely song on this album called "Halloween," if you're assembling a Halloween party playlist or October mixtape right now. Actually, fuck it, just play this whole album start to finish at your Halloween party. It will not fail you.
I give this a "I certainly appreciate the creative spelling, Siouxsie" out of 10.