Siouxsie and the Banshees
Join Hands



by Fluorine USER (5 Reviews)
July 11th, 2011 | 11 replies

Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Think about it as a post-Scream EP.

Join Hands is the oft forgotten album of Siouxsie & the Banshees (aside from their 90s work which mostly deserves to be forgotten), because it stands in the shadow of their other 70s accomplishment The Scream and isn’t quite comparable to what comes afterwards. As it stood back in 1979, Join Hands was still a welcome and exciting addition to the Banshees oeuvre. Second albums are often about expansion, getting hold of the good ideas of a debut and making them bigger while fixing the things that marred the first attempt and keeping a hand on experimentation. At least, that’s how Join Hands turned out.

Join Hands gets a slightly better production job than The Scream, and although it’s all still focused around the simple guitar/bass/drums setup, it feels fuller. There’s a greater variety of sounds and songforms here that the Banshees explore. The album starts with a bell chime. In fact, opener Poppy Day sounds like a tense and steady march into battle. The battle, in this case, would be The Regal Zone in which a saxophone and a tambourine get healthy use. Elsewhere, subtle sax flourishes and backing male vocals in Premature Burial bring unexpected life into the fold. Two cuts later comes a song driven almost solely by a music box and Siouxsie’s creepy, lost-girl cooing. They’re small steps, but notable and appreciated ones.

Once again where the album shines is in its guitar. McKay seemed to have a near total change in style from The Scream to Join Hands. He’s abandoned following tonality to become a relentless grinding force throughout much of the album. As a result, the music feels more volatile, angrier, and tense. In exchange, Join Hands isn’t as danceable as the prior album. It’s propelled by a persistent mood rather than a persistent rhythm.

The mother goose of uneasy tales and portraits continues recounting stories of mutilation, confusion, and paranoia, but she sounds a little more authoritative, like a commanding warlord (or perhaps warlady?). Siouxsie’s brand of doom-mongering has been expanded to take on themes of war and religion. Icon, one of the standouts here along with Playground Twist, sounds like a lost U2 song from the War era if The Edge dared to be more sinister. What’s really appealing this go around is that Siouxsie has found more command over her own voice. She has grasped a sense of melody which she uses to wring more tension out of these songs, but just in case, Siouxsie’s voice is pushed further back in the mix than in The Scream which she tended to dominate.

Honestly, Join Hands is every bit great as The Scream until The Lord’s Prayer comes. It’s a novel idea to put The Lord’s Prayer into a thrashing punk jam and then twisting it into paranoid refutation of God, but the execution, a 14-minute droning, directionless wankfest gets to be grating and trying of patience. It’s still interesting, but it’s not very enjoyable.

Join Hands is like the underbelly of The Scream. Less fun but more lyrically substantial, less messy (well, except The Lord’s Prayer) but more focused in its anger, less domestic but more broad and ambitious in scope. It’s an album less apt for dancing on graves and more suitable to staying home and loathing the powers of government and religion that keep making them. I guess the problem is that it’s still so easily lumped together with its apparent counterpart that it’s difficult to distinguish its own identity.

Luckily that would hardly be a problem in later releases.

user ratings (103)

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 12th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

LCD Soundsystem as a recommended album because James Murphy apparently loves this album in particular.

July 12th 2011


He’s abandoned a lot of tonality and to become a relentless grinding force through much of the album, bubbling away in the background.

This reads strange, otherwise good work! I really want to check out their interpretation of the lords prayer now.

July 12th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0


I'd imagine The Lord's Prayer was a fantastic live thing that didn't translate well to a recorded album format. Still an interesting listen.

Also, now that I have 4+ reviews, I get a 'recent reviews by this author' thing. Spiffy!

July 12th 2011


It's nice isn't it?

Yeah I can imagine that as well, still might give it a go later tonight though.

April 9th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

This album is heavily overlooked. This is the album that Deborah Curtis found Ian Curtis' cheat's number in. There is a lot of underground history with this album. This is a transition period for Siouxise and the Banshees. They started to drift from their original post-punk sound to more of the goth/new wavish sound after this album. I personally give this a 4 because it is so haunting and is a chilling listen. The Lord's Prayer I particularly enjoy off this album. I really do not know why people do not like it?

April 1st 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

Damn I'm conflicted on this. Has some top tier Banshees songs like Playground Twist but the last song is boring and is such a hindrance on it.

June 8th 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

This is a cold dark punk lp with lyrics written straight from the asylum.

Oh and there is the premature burial that comes straight from the grave..

Placebo effect is great,Icon is amazing..the playground twist is fuckin great..

ok the lords prayer is a bit boring..sounds like a long theatrical monologue though..

I dont know man...i think this is a really good record

June 8th 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

Pre good just wish the last song wasn't there

February 23rd 2019


Album Rating: 2.0

can't stand this album. Few songs are ok, but others just suck for me.

My favourite albums of them: A Kiss In The Dreamhouse, Juju and Tinderbox. I'll give Kaleidoscope a listen soon.

Digging: Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

June 16th 2019


Album Rating: 2.5

The Lord's Prayer really ruined this. Placebo Effect is excellent though.

Digging: The Tubes - The Tubes

January 30th 2020


Album Rating: 5.0

It is the most powerful anti war album ever made, long before Let's England Shake and PJ Harvey has cited Siouxsie as an influence as well.

"Placebo Effect" presaged what Joy Division would do on Closer

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