The Stranglers – Giants
The first Stranglers LP since 2006’s Suite XVI explores some relatively unknown territories for the band, now in their 38th year. Freedom is Insane begins like a meditation CD, all wave noises and cheesy floating synths, before stepping up into familiar driving rock mode; My Fickle Resolve dabbles in cocktail-jazz rhythms with awkward results; and Adios (Tango) is an ill-advised stab at – you guessed it – tango.
Such engagements with unfamiliar genres are laudable in theory, but they’re ultimately hamstrung by an inability to think beyond the timeworn parameters of the Stranglers’ sound. In each case, Dave Greenfield’s trademark keyboard runs, Jean-Jacques Burnel’s robust bass hooks, and Baz Warne’s somewhat bland, uninspired guitar solos are offered up in lieu of any kind of genuine rethink; as a result, Giants often sounds more like four session musicians engaging in half-hearted pastiche than a serious attempt to pursue new directions.