“Into a Swan,” the first single off Mantaray, is to Siouxsie Sioux what “Stronger” is to Kanye West. Both are testaments of an artist’s nerve: Daft Punk’s sample makes Kanye’s beats “harder, better, faster,” while Siouxsie sings over a siren, “I burst out/I’m transformed.” Like Kanye, Siouxsie shows that she has something to prove; as the former lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees, she may look less than swan-like in all that make-up, but she still carries the best of the Six Pistols era’s grimy authenticity. In most obvious ways, Siouxsie has moved from the dissonant sounds of her band’s debut, The Scream, and into pure, intoxicating pop on her solo debut. Now more than ever, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between Siouxsie and Shirley Manson: Mantaray‘s sound is distinctly modern, filtered through the lush electronic textures of Garbage, Portishead, even Björk, but it’s Siouxsie voice—trembling and echoing all at once—that reaffirms the album’s urgency. Her attitude is genuinely punk, but notice that Mantaray ends on, of all things, a song about heartache. On “Heaven and Alchemy,” Siouxsie sings between ethereal warbles, “I’m in love with the idea of you/Run, rush, reality/Hard to face this deception/This human frailty,” and it’s every bit as breathless and bone-chilling as the first chord of The Scream.
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