Review of Twice Upon a Time ('92)
Written by Dave Morrison
Twice Upon a Time
Four Stars (Out of Five)
It's undoubtedly a sound career move, but that the former Grand Viziers of Goth's slickest offering to date is a sonic accompaniment to gloomy Gotham City on the soundtrack to Batman Returns has a nice irony to it. Whatever would Siouxsie have said to such an idea in '78? A curt dismissal, no doubt.
But things change and their second "best of," dating from '82 on, shows how much the Banshees have moved away from the goth business. They produced some of their best work in this period, superbly crafted vignettes of dark-hued psychedelic melodrama. Just how far they've come is shown by the '84 reworking of "Overground," originally on their debut LP "The Scream," where the teeth-grating abrasion of old gives way to a panoramic sound of martial drumming, strings and flamenco guitars. Strings were virtually omnipresent at the time, forming a churning undergrowth to "Dazzle" and winding around the rhythms of "Slowdive."
The music's sensuality is mirrored in the lyrics, which are hardly your average boy-meets-girl stuff. The Baudelairean imagery of "Melt!" evokes claustrophobic scents of opium, sex and sickly flowers, and lapses into morbidity with lines like, "You are the melting man and as you melt, you are beheaded." OK, it's a touch ludicrous, but a great pop song nevertheless. Big hit "Dear Prudence" first showed how adept the Banshees were to become at tackling others' material, proven on the underrated covers LP, "Through The Looking Glass." Included here are Dylan's "This Wheel's On Fire" which gets an oriental reading, and the horn-fuelled lope of Iggy's "The Passenger."
Recently the Banshees have gained a new audience but kept their pop integrity intact, no more so than on "Peek-A-Boo," a shuddering collage of depth-charge bass, accordion and everything else. Which brings us full-circle to "Face To Face," sleek and smooth, with more good old sex and death imagery.
"Twice Upon A Time" is an hour of heady pleasure, a legal intoxicant par excellence.