Sunday, 6 October 2013

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Wild Things' by The Creatures

It's Sunday again and surely by now you know what that means: it's Siouxsie time! This Sunday's also the first time that a non-Banshee album makes an appearance in this review series. That's correct: this time the review is instead of an album (or actually, an EP) by The Creatures who were a splinter group of the Banshees. During their Juju sessions Siouxsie and Budgie (the singer and the drummer, respectively) experimented on creating a track with only drums and vocals. The outcome was "But Not Them", which made occasional appearances in The Banshees' setlists (even despite being left out of the album) but more importantly, ignited a spark to create more material like that. The Creatures was born.

To put it briefly, the EP is a five-track experiment with nothing else but Siouxsie's distinctive voice and Budgie's innovative percussion (drums and marimba). Even though this is hardly something you'd call 'easy listening', the EP actually peaked at #24 in the UK singles list, with the duo even performing "Mad Eyed Screamer" on Top Of The Pops. How absurd must that have been, considering the song is hardly a 'pop' one. Yet, even though the arrangements of the songs are extremely stripped down, there is something special about them that can make them nearly earwormy. Which you wouldn't necessarily expect with music like this. Driven with thumping drums and frenetic marimba, "Mad Eyed Screamer" is a story about a crazy, obsessive man who Siouxsie used to see preaching at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. A music video was shot for the song as well.

"So Unreal" is a fine example of the duo's ability to create a perfectly full sound with just the two elements they used (the group would later incorporate a broader range of instruments into their music, though). "But Not Them", the experiment that marked the birth of The Creatures, is a frenzied stomper of a tune that is one of the more instantly catchy songs here and should you give it a chance, you'll find out it even makes a funny singalong, too. Or maybe it's just me. The lyrics, describing the clash between the old sex roles, are trademark Siouxsie with lines like "Dead lumps of meat / melt in this heat". You can take Siouxsie out of the Banshees but you can't take the banshee out of Siouxsie.

The title track "Wild Thing" is a cover version of The Troggs' 1966 hit of the same name (which was in fact a cover as well). Siouxsie has done quite a few covers during her career but none has been as radically reworked as this one - well, see for yourself! Then again, isn't that the point of covering in the first place, making the song your own? The song also features an additional lyric by Siouxsie: "Wild thing / I think I hate you / But I wanna know for sure / So come on and hit me hard / I hate you". So it's no longer really that much of a love song either.

In contrast to the other songs that are more uptempo and even slightly aggressive, the final track "Thumb" is a hauntingly eerie number. The lyrics, if I'm not terribly mistaken, are about hitchhiking with all the 'travelling on the road' imagery and references to thumbs, but it also paints a more sinister picture out of it: "Jump inside little girl, take a ride by my side / There's no end to this ride with this stranger tonight". Also, there is the cryptic lyric "These thumbs are my guns". As I said, trademark Siouxsie; enigmatic and menacing.

The EP is a very interesting listen as it's nothing like Siouxsie had done before. One might even say it's not something that had really been done at all in the 'genre' or the 'scene' that she represented. This isn't really music that you conquer charts with, you see. Instead it's music that sounds like "something the creatures in the book Where The Wild Things Are would have danced to on their island" as put by Steven Severin, the bassist of the Banshees. According to Wikipedia (how lazy am I?) that's how the EP (and possibly also the project) got its name. And indeed, there is something very tribal and in that sense, primitive in this music. The EP could also be interpreted as an elaborate way of Siouxsie giving the finger to all who tried to categorise and pigeonhole her and her style - Juju especially was often titled a 'goth' album which didn't really please the label-hating band. And Wild Things certainly showcases Siouxsie as a truly original and unpredictable force to be reckoned with.

2½ / 5

No comments:

Post a Comment