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Peepshow ()

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The switch to Yet Another Banshees Guitarist in Specimen vet Jon Klein might have been seen as a cue for a time of tentative rebuilding -- the more so because another new member, cellist Martin McCarrick, was recruited at the same time. Anything but -- heralded by the spectacular "Peek-A-Boo," interpolating what sounded like the Charleston into hip-hop rhythms with a brilliant, choppy arrangement, Peepshow proved the band's best album in years. Once again showcasing the band's ace in the hole -- the ability to always provide an accomplished variety of sound and approach while still recognizably maintaining a uniquely Banshees style -- Peepshow is the sound of a band reenergized. Siouxsie's thrilling call and response with herself on "Peek-A-Boo" really can't be beat, but her star turns throughout the album all deserve notice, especially with the bravura one-two conclusion of the stately "The Last Beat of My Heart" and the dramatic, lives-up-to-the-title "Rhapsody." McCarrick's cello work is excellently integrated into the music, adding a purring extra bite on songs like the pummeling "The Killing Jar," while both Steven Severin and Budgie acquit themselves well as always. If their moments of total flash are subsumed for the overall arrangements, it's to the benefit of the songs, overseen with another fine production job from semi-regular Banshees studio cohort Mike Hedges. The band's knack for a combination of title, lyric, and atmosphere remains strong -- "Carousel" sounds indeed like a slightly demented version of such a thing, while "Rawhead and Bloodybones," appropriately for two English bogeyman characters, is quiet, creepy, and very much sneaking-up-on-you-in-the-night. "Scarecrow" is a secret highlight, ominous guitar and bass tones and swirling arrangements supporting a great Siouxsie turn, while the hints of flamenco on "Turn to Stone" perhaps inadvertently suggest where the Creatures would end up with their next album two years later. ~ Ned Raggett, Rovi Hide synopsis

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