"You swallow the trail but still arrive in your entrails."
Join Hands is often characterized as an early misfire for Siouxsie and The Banshees, a bleak, impenetrable album containing few if any of the charms found in the band's other albums of the time. When listening to this album, I can't help but wonder what its reputation would be if it had been recorded by another band, instead of being sandwiched in between groundbreaking works such as The Scream and Kaliedoscope. Don't get me wrong, Join Hands offers few of the Punk theatrics of the former or the powerful vocal performances of the latter, but in their place, The Banshee's sophomore album captures the band (as it was then comprised) at their most unstructured, unpolished, and experimental. This was partly due to the success of The Scream, which prompted Polydor to pressure the band for a timely follow-up; however, The Banshees were already fraying at the edges and heading toward a state of emotional disarray, something that would eventually lead to their disintegration while on tour supporting Join Hands. Undeniably, the album bears the mark of its tumultuous origins, and because of this, it is often written off as an artistic "hiccup" before putting together the classic incarnation of The Banshees that included Budgie and John McGeoch, but such critics overlook the way Join Hands ties Siouxsie's early Punk-influenced sound to her later, more overtly Goth-oriented approach. Simply put, Join Hands may not be as consistent as its predecessor, but it takes bigger chances by pushing Siouxsie's unique take on Punk minimalism to a new level. For example, on "Placebo Effect," the band marries the dark, minor-key attack that characterized the debut album to a slower, more plodding rhythm, as Siouxsie, strangely buried in the mix, contributes one of her better vocals on the album. However, it is John McKay's ominous guitar-work that really brings the song together, thus providing a valuable reminder that this early incarnation of the band was something to behold. While Join Hands is successful in pushing the Punk aesthetic into areas even further afield than the debut, on songs such as "Icon," it also anticipates the more melodic and varied sonic approach Siouxsie would take on future albums after reforming the band. Where the album (and its reputation) falters a bit is the way it ends: the fourteen minute "The Lord's Prayer," which was an integral part of their live set at the time. While impressive in theory, the song just isn't sonically compelling enough to provide a proper finale to what is otherwise one of the more inventive albums in Siouxsie and The Banshees' discography.
Join Hands (2006 Remastered Edition)
1. Poppy Day (2:02)
2. Regal Zone (3:47)
3. Placebo Effect (4:37)
4. Icon (5:26)
5. Premature Burial (5:58)
6. Playground Twist (2:59)
7. Mother / Oh Mein Papa (3:23)
8. The Lord's Prayer (14:14)
9. Love in a Void (7" Double-A Side) (2:35)
10. Infantry (3:16)