Unknown Source 1982  
  A myriad of musical styles and studio trickery on this cultural trip around the world.  Somehow the Banshees have managed to progress throughout their career of ups and downs.  This fine set is without doubt their highpoint, for now at least.  The nine tracks fit together perfectly but cover so much ground you feel almost drained after listening.

Augmented by strings, an array of percussive bits and pieces and their own sympathetic production 'A Kiss' is an essential listen.  There's the disturbing 'Obsession', the loose jazz approach to 'Cocoon', and the frantic new single 'Slowdive'.  Siouxsie's voice is as strong as ever, Budgie and Severin as solid, but the real hero must be John McGeogh.  Stylish guitar from acoustic to electric and some sweet and precise keyboards just when they're needed.  Need I say more?

David Henderson



  Record Mirror 06/11/82  
  A Kiss In The Dreamhouse Tour Poster Click Here For Bigger ScanA Siouxsie and the Banshees album holds its attraction in the struggle to keep ideas and trim imagination into a concise pop format.  For make no mistake, no matter how much Sioux would like you to think otherwise, her vision is strictly confined by a pragmatic pop sensibility.

Sure, 'Kiss In The Dreamhouse' is veiled in all sorts of dark imagery, Hitchcockian melodrama, straggly suburbanite pictures of hell and beyond.  But at root, when stripped of its pretence and pomposity, it reveals itself as a safe and popularised cheap novelette.

Not that this is a criticism, mind you, for this is never less than compulsive listening.  The point is, not to take it all too seriously.

Now we've pushed the 'Hammer horror' cobwebs away, let's go take a look and see what's on offer.  Simply, 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse' covers well worn territory, but in doing so lightens the journey with the oblique stroke and sharp craft of a very talented group.

From the clear acoustic treble of 'Cascade' to the ham walking jazz bass line of 'Cocoon', the Banshees evoke a plethora of half earnest sixth form angst and dare I say it, pilfered Rolling Stones riffs on the rocky 'She's A Carnival'.

Delight in the tackiness of it all.  Banshees would have you think they plumb the depths of darkness, ride the scabrous, dirty side of modern nightmare.  They don't, but then, there's something touching in such playful suburban decadence.  Forget what the Banshees think they are, for this is a very fine pop record.  


Jim Reid



  Webmaster 26/10/01  
  Rich, colourful, augmenting sounds I'm unable to describe and would be at a loss to tell you how they occurred. A hodge podge of styles and themes, that somehow gel together to make a concurrent whole. From the opening flow of Cascade to the last beats of the disco parody Slowdive, this album flows from one track to another with ease. And so much sex!!!! The eroticism of Cascade and Melt! Who would have thought the Banshees would open up like this. And the choice for singles seems appropriately Banshee like, forging ahead, making their own 'noise' and fuck the commercial impact. 

Dreamhouse is like nothing else of its time, hardly Goth, hardly synth pop, or the horror that was the beginnings of stadium rock. Once again they move away from the traditional four piece bound sound and experiment with found sounds, loops, playing things backwards, speeding them up, slowing them down to make something truly unique and their own. 

The Banshees have fun on this album, lyrically some themes are similar, like Obsession, and Cocoon, but it's the discovery of sex in it's most erotic form that over powers. 

I think it's fair to say that the Banshees finally did something they had been longing to do and would experiment with in future, that is to orchestrate their music, which would in turn make them rethink and rework some of their back catalogue. 

The production is clear and sharp, Siouxsie voice has never sounded better, some achievement considering the voice problems that were occurring at this time.   

What of Fireworks?, not meant for inclusion, but their first outing using strings and could have fit in well with the eclectic scheme of things.  Once again the b-sides are gems and you are left in no doubt that they were recorded during the Dreamhouse sessions.

And Siouxsie's face on the cover, unusual at this time and capturing perfectly a moment in time.



  NME 06/11/82  
  A Kiss In The Dreamhouse Poster Click Here For Bigger ScanIT’S RARE for a group to make their fourth LP and still be provocative, still be interested in themselves, let along break any substantially new ground.  For them to progress as far as Siouxsie and The Banshees have done on ‘A Kiss In The Dreamhouse’ is a feat of imagination scarcely ever recorded.  It’s breathtaking.

It seemed to me when they took first brash, punky steps that this might be the model for the perfect group.  They avoided record contracts for longer than most would have dared and built up a following based solely on live performance and reputation.  Their manifesto was to challenge the natural order, incarnate both as the soft revolt of the new wave and the consumptive greed of the business: they wanted to restore the mystery dispersed by years of rock misuse.

Of course, as soon as their records began to appear the whole strategy capsized disastrously.  As I suggested in discussion of their singles collection last year, the clumsy noise-making of the ‘Scream’ period did nothing more than throw a shabby cloak of ersatz strangeness around a grey little repertoire of songs, redeemed only by the occasional glimmer of sensuality from a singer bound up in mannerism.

I had forgotten about that ‘perfect group’ until some of the glistening resonance in this record brought it back.  The Banshees’ discipline of their progress is what has allowed them to move on: as with Smith and The Fall, the only other group of their era to have retained their dignity, reigning in their ambitions has permitted them to reach this now incandescent state.  From ‘Cascades’, an opening flourish that falls down like a rainstorm of needles, to the bottomless shaft of ‘Slowdive’, their old gothic garb is traded for robes of transfiguration.  Everything here is flooded radiance and flame.

Somehow, a bold assurance of intention has met with a hunger for experimenting with sound to expand an already formidable group of songs into pure, open-minded ambiguity.  The flesh of the song will balloon out or contort into unimaginable patterns; indecipherable echoes volley between the walls of the recording; glassy, splintered tones pierce the luxuriant sheen of the mix.  Repeated listens trick the sense of balance; tremendous risks are taken.  They have refused to settle for simple light and dark.  There’s even some humour.

In John McGeogh’s guitars a beauty settles on the tattooed skin of the songs, and in budgie’s now tumultuous rhythmic shifts they are given the spirit of the movement.  The most improbable sounds crowd the corners of an essentially electric music: bells, the rustic trill of a recorder, the taut skein of parched brushes.  ’Green Fingers’, ’Obsession’ and ’Cocoon’ are the most ambitious and consummately realised works they have conceived, daunting songs that actively confront passive listening - sensually threatening in a way they have only fleetingly touched on before.

As the seal on this breakthrough, the singer sheds her last doubts at being as one with the music.  She doesn’t trouble to strain through a great babble of accents  - it is the same voice throughout, one which arcs between moods with a suddenly struck grace, taunting and cajoling and whispering its spellbound state.  Having dispensed with affection she actually sounds younger, betrothed to the wisdom of a calm, all-knowing child.  It is a marvellous performance by Sioux.

And yet, the record is flawed - which is as it should be.  Their frameworks don’t always set a prodigious enough challenge for imaginations which are now in full flow, which leaves, say, ’She’s A Carnival’ as a too familiar Banshees spiral and too many of the lyrics as obscure reversions to vulgarly clotted imagery ("So many blazing orchids/Burning in your throat" and a recurrent horror of the marital altar).  But it means they can progress still further: for now, there is enough here to call for a complete revaluation on the Banshees.

Especially in the closing ’Slowdive’, the most complex and demanding of all their singles (significantly, a commercial failure).  In its acid collage of strings and voices it triggers the emotional avalanche which they were trying to secure on ’Helter Skelter’.  I promise, this music will take your breath away.  

Richard Cook



  Melody Maker 06/11/82  
  Always immune to the inflections of fashion, the Banshees have followed their own internal logic, revelling in antagonism, revealing an unspoken conviction that in order to assert their independence, it was necessary to remain aloof.

"A Kiss In The Dreamhouse" finally takes their uniqueness for granted and, in shaking off the shackles of paranoid pride, throws open the doors to further, far more rewarding exotic experiences.

The ecstatic tension that permeates "Dreamhouse" is brewed between the joyous crescendo of McGeoch's guitar, the exhilarating stampede of Budgie's percussion, the urgent insistence of Severin's bass, the enthusiastic precision of engineer Mike Hedges, the sensual temptation of Sioux's poison caress and the unflinching imagery of the songs - no static from the outside contemporary ozone.

Words claw at music, definition decays, beauty weds brutality, animal bliss courts clinical dissection, fornication writhes with fascination and while almost everyone else has given up the ghost on expanding the boundaries of commerciality, the Banshees achieve an awesome, effective new pop without so much as a theory or qualm.

The transition that's taken place between the succulent but rigid consolidation of last year's "Juju" and the carefree disrespect for convention expressed through "Dreamhouse" is a mysterious miracle, a free, giddy spin from what the Banshees felt they should have been (and what they felt we felt they should be!) to something the Banshees wanted to do for a few weeks in the summer.

It may sound trite, but there's a spirit of fun pervading "Dreamhouse", a sense of absolute abandon to delight and discovery, a subtle but sizeable shift from the point of contempt their past excursions set out from.  Sounds melt, swerve and swoon as "Cocoon" seduces a torch song out of the bar and tempts it into Blakean limbo somewhere between heaven and hell.  Temporal considerations slip away as "Green Fingers" plays cat and mouse with language, revealing and concealing hints of fertility and decay like the innocent cruelty of a child's game of hide and seek.

And yet more, beyond the invigorating innocence of "Dreamhouse", experience manifests itself, a mature grasp of that which matters in making the Banshees special and that which they've outgrown and could duly discard.  A footnote on the luscious Klimt-like sleeve reads "Nelly the elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus" - a wry assessment of their own liberation?

Humour?  The Banshees?  Yes... and a warming humanity as well - the joke organ reprise of "She's A Carnival" matched by the band's willingness to let themselves go lyrically.

"Dreamhouse" should silence, once and for all, the soulless detractors who slander the Banshees with accusations of gratuitous Gothic horror.  "Circle", for instance, exposes the sin of missed opportunities with wickedly cutting expertise, expanding a subject cheapened by the sham generation gap of Jerry Dammer's "Too Much Too Young" to show the miserably repetitious nature of the human condition.

And again, on "Obsession" she toys with a real-life vignette as she did with "Christine", using the biographical details of a demented lover to comfortably illustrate the uncomfortable selfishness that lurks beyond the veneer of love.

Beyond... the word will surface in the subconscious.  Beyond all wildest hopes and dreams, beyond all past suggestion and momentum, beyond all standards set this year, "Dreamhouse" is an intoxicating achievement.

Steve Sutherland.  06/11/82