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The new Siouxsie and the Banshees album is a very smooth affair, which you can look at as a good or a bad thing. If they feel creaky in their bones now that they are up to their eleventh long-player, the sleek production (handled by Velvet Undergr ound man John Cale) masks it well.

The downside is that fans might feel a bit cheated by the commercialism-at-all-costs approach. The single "Oh Baby" opens The Rapture album and is as glammy and poppy and sweet-natured as they could get it. And that goes for the next few tracks, all Top 30-pleasing, fine-tuned melodies that, if you've heard them once, you've heard them a dozen times. It's not punk rock but, hell, in their defence, they have other priorities. And the Banshees kept afloat in the Seventies and Eighties while practically all of their contemporaries died at least one death. They survived because they're realistic. Which means that to ride the cutting edge would be to cut themselves adrift at this 19th-year stage of the game. Better to be slagged off for being pop sluts than be ignored completely.

The break after 1991's Superstition was obviously a good move. Oh yes, they wrote "Face to Face" for the Batman Returns movie, released a singles package and Siouxsie (right) duetted with Morrissey on a minor hit, but none of that counts as full employment, does it? Last year's Grand show and Reading Festival appearance proved their pulling power is still strong, so as for this weekend, oh come, all ye faithful.

Siouxsie and the Banshees, Shepherd's Bush Empire, W12 (081-740 7474) tonight and Sat. See listings for details

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