It’s time to have one of those talks; y’know, the kind where we have to come to self-realizations. Pick your chair up, draw in closer, and let’s have a therapeutic discussion on what we all really want around here. We’ll deal with the younger crowd a bit later. Bear with me.
The Stranglers began life somewhere in the later ‘70s, where most of us “older” folks quickly learned to love this group of post-punk geniuses for their ability to not only craft great songs but whole albums of them. From their brilliant debut, Rattus Norvegicus (1977) to their newest, Suite XVI, sixteen albums later, The Stranglers have produced a string of largely excellent albums with a few so-sos in tow (it happens). But in Suite XVI, you realize that the band really hasn’t deviated too far from their defining styles, the foundation of which was laid back in 1977. This can be considered a good thing, if not great.
Suite XVI contain 11 songs of originals that are performed by 3 of the 4 original members, with only founder, Hugh Cornwell gone from the lineup. In all of those songs, the writing is strong and as much fun as if this album would have released in say, 1979. And so, we have a band that has not tried to get right with the times but continue to do what it is known for. The demise sheet is long on the many bands that changed styles to gain credence with the new era…and failed.
In a time, where new bands (Strokes, Bloc Party, Interpol) are successfully mining the “old school” and making bucks, it’s refreshing to hear a legitimate band like The Stranglers who can musically speak to all age levels. The young set who find discovery and acceptable change in bands like Bloc Party, Interpol, and The Strokes can find much to love in the Stranglers and their new album.
The therapy for us older fans? That’s easy; with music being produced like The Stranglers’ Suite XVI, it’s like we’re still in the music game. That’s important for those of us who refuse to get caught up in “it’s not like it was back in the day.” We already know that. We just want to believe that music can be made that is as fresh as the “old days” and Suite XVI gives us that. We want need to believe that we’re still a viable audience. With the young crowd, Suite XVI can be a joy to discover – fresh (for this time), listenable, and excellent.
The Stranglers hasn’t really disappointed me for 30 years; I’ve a feeling they’re going to keep me an avid fan well into the future. For you, Suite XVI comes highly recommended.