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Album Review: The Stranglers - Giants (2012 LP)

THE STRANGLERS - GIANTS

True to their usual approach of not dwelling on a style ad nauseam, The Stranglers have once again produced a unique album in Giants that draws from a myriad of styles including, but not limited to Punk, Tango, the Blues, Country, and even Metal. You might not get my reference to that last style, but it does pop up for a moment. Don’t go expecting wildly different songs though; they tie them all together with the Stranglers unique twist of New Wave, so it’s not necessarily like listening to a new band every time.

“Another Camden” opens the proceedings in grand instrumental fashion projecting a sound somewhere between the Doors and the Blues Brothers theme with a tincture of country on the peripheries. Knowing the bands penchant for musical adventure, “Adios (Tango)” is no surprise as it plays with the Argentinian style as only the guys from Guilford know how. If you lust for crunchy Pub Rock, something like “Time Was Once On My Side” provides something to get your teeth into. Surprisingly, a section of it sounds carnivalesque.

Although there are livelier tracks, “My Fickle Resolve” is my personal favourite with its melodic bass intro, swung country twang, and surplus lyrical fodder such as, “I’ve often punched above my weight/And wound up feeling less than great”. “Mercury Rising” has similar pop sensibility, but doesn’t quite match up to the former. “Boom Boom” and “Lowlands” are not bad songs as such, but are a ditch in the middle of an otherwise smooth road and don’t really do the album justice. There’s something weird going on rhythmically in “Lowlands” that I can’t figure out and although I want to say it’s innovative, it quite simply does my head in. Title track “Giants” is likewise not the greatest song on the album, but has some interesting lyrical content and at least provides the album with a curt name.

“15 Steps” redeems any misguided steps taken in the lead up to it with guitars at first distantly reminiscent of Boogie, then moving steadily into a New Wave drive. The brooding lyrics are somewhat redolent of Ian Curtis, but feature some additional wit that was lacking in Curtis’ despondent Manchunian baritone such as, “Nothing ever seems to hurry/There is no Greenwich Mean Time there”. Redemption from the grind of time is sweet indeed and this album provides it for the most part with only a few hiccups.

Review Score: 7 out of 10.