Siouxsie Mantaray

Siousxie Sioux’s first album comes with some surprises to it. After using it for 30 years, she’s dropped her iconic surname, hinting that at the age of 50 she’s now ready to soak in her stardom. Even more astounding is the fact that she’s left her Banshees and Creatures (read: ex-husband/musical partner Budgie) behind for her first ever solo album. It seems almost unbelievable but the goth/punk legend has never gone it alone before. This just makes Siouxsie’s first solo foray all the more interesting. Never before has she sounded so confident and — it feels weird to say — tough. Perhaps she realised her position as a punk hero and felt it’s time to start over, but Mantaray finds Siouxsie attacking without any uncertainties. She’s bold in using a heavier guitar base to help drive home a combination of past instrumentation practiced by her two former bands. "One Mile Below” uses hypnotic, droning, creeping synths and tom-heavy drums to complement the strident guitar riffage, while single "Into A Swan” slithers in the same murk as PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire? It’s fascinating to see Siouxsie take such a muscular direction with Mantaray; the expectation would be for something artier, like gospel finale "Heaven and Alchemy,” for the entire album. But she stands tall with her eccentric power and in the end gives us a work that expands her unique vision, showing just how complex and unpredictable this siren really is. (Decca/Universal)