The Stranglers – Dark Matters (2021)

Posted on October 3, 2021 by brushvox

Social Buttons by Linksku

It was the second half of the eighties when somebody wanted to sell me two The Stranglers records. It was a friend but also a vinyl collector and black market dealer. The two albums were “The Raven” (1979) and “The Gospel According to the Meninblack” (1981).
When I heard the opening chords of “Waltzinblack” for the first time, I was utterly hypnotised. “Just Like Nothing On Earth”, “Second Coming”, “Two Sunspots”, or “Thrown Away” were instant favourites, just like “The Raven”, “Dead Loss Angeles”, “Baroque Bordello”, “Nuclear Device” or “Duchess”.
Music had a different meaning on the shady side of the Berlin Wall, and albums get through randomly and at their own pace. It was possible to listen first to the band’s fifth album before getting your hands on their debut album. And it was alright. We loved the music for itself and not due to advertising and selling pitches. Labels such as “punk rock” or “new wave” were completely irrelevant. Under the pressure of a communist dictatorship, even songs like “No More Heroes” had a different meaning. I was an unfitting teenage punk rocker back then, while nowadays, I enjoy the French version of “Don’t Bring Harry”.
In the nineties, not only the system changed but also the music. Still, The Stranglers remained an old familiar friend, and once in a while, I have returned to listen especially to their old records.
Guitarist-singer Hugh Cornwell left the band in 1990. Jean-Jacques Burnel, Dave Greenfield and Jet Black remained the core and spine of the band. I always loved the heavy but melodic bass lines of Burnel and the unmistakable character of Greenfield’s keyboards. For me, that was the essence of The Stranglers.
In 2000 guitarist-singer Baz Warne was recruited, and The Stranglers came alive again. Baz is a perfect fit for the band and feels like he was there from the band’s inception. The 2012’s “Giants” was the last album featuring drummer Jet Black. “Giants” showed consistent signs of returning to the sound of the seventies and eighties. After being for quite a while disconnected from their activities, “Giants” came as a fresh breath of “old familiars”.
Jim Macaulay, the “new” drummer, has been an active and constant collaborator since 2013. Macaulay played live with the band, although Black officially retired only in 2018. Although his style is not spectacular, his drumming is a solid addition to the band.
The news of the passing of Dave Greenfield in May 2020 was heartbreaking. The release of “Dark Matters”, the band’s eighteenth studio album, came as a medicine. Greenfield features on eight of the album’s eleven tracks, and the song “And If You Should See Dave…” is a beautiful homage to his memory.
“This Song” is one of the best – a cover of The Disciples Of Spess song “This Song Will Get Me Over You”, released in 2008 but co-credited to the Stranglers. Oddly enough, it sounds like a genuine classic Stranglers. The original is great, and the Stranglers version is even better

“I’m collecting all these feelings for you
Put them in a box in a darkened room
And seal the lid with an industry-standard glue
Make the box into a silent tomb
With all these photographs and pictures of you
Taken in a car and someone else’s front room

This song will get me over you
Lift me up and take me out of view
This song that says that she’ll hurt you once or twice
But she’ll never be with you the way you want her to
This song will get me over you

Take the box into uncharted seas
Far away from all humanity
And swear the crew to absolute secrecy
Sink the box down to the ocean floor
For maybe 20,000 leagues or more
And ban deep-sea diving by an act of law

This song will get me over you
Lift me up and take me out of view
This song that says that she’ll hurt you once or twice
But she’ll never be with you the way you want her to
This song will get me over you

I’ll trust in Davy Jones’ locker
Far from any grave robber
To steal away all the memories of you
And all the people they may wonder
That I no longer seem to bother
And I appear to be completely over you

This song will get me over you
Lift me up and take me out of view
This song that says that she’ll hurt you once or twice
But she’ll never be with you the way you want her to
This song will get me over you
Lift me up and take me out of view
This song that says that she’ll hurt you once or twice
But she’ll never be with you the way you want her to
This song will get me over you
This song will get me over you
This song will get me over you
This song will get me over you
If that’s what I really wanna do.”

And when in the “And If You Should See Dave…” at 2:55, they sing “This is where your solo would go” and leave a few empty bars, I almost cried. Nice touch

If the rest of the album had been forgettable, these two songs would have been enough. However, the rest of the songs are very much alive and kicking.
“Water”, “If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might as Well Be Love)”, “No Man’s Land”, “Payday”, “The Last Men on the Moon”, and “Breathe” are all classics. “White Stallion” has a softer touch, while “The Lines” and “Down” are ballads. “The Lines” is almost like a Christmas song. I can feel the snowflakes melting on my face and imagine Santa playing the acoustic guitar in front of the fireplace.

I would say it is a classic rock album with a twist of (post) punk-rock, space rock and new wave topping. If you feel like listening to music, “Dark Matters” is the right choice. Real music like this is something rare these days. Enjoy it!

A promotional tour has been scheduled and rescheduled due to the pandemic. Buy the album and keep an eye on the band’s official website.

The Stranglers Official sitePosted in Grilled Records
Tagged with 2021classic rockDark MattersDave Greenfieldpost punkpunk rockrockspace rockThe Disciples Of SpessThe Stranglers

The Stranglers – Dark Matters (2021)

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