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The Stranglers provide a fitting farewell to bandmate with "Dark Matters"

With "Dark Matters," The Stranglers have provided a very worthwhile 18th studio album for their fans as well as a quite fitting farewell to band member Dave Greenfield.
The Stranglers -- Dark Matters cover art

THE STRANGLERS
DARK MATTERS
BFD/The Orchard (CD, LP)
Four Stars

By John Curley

The Stranglers’ first studio album since 2012, Dark Matters is the first without original drummer Jet Black. The late Dave Greenfield played on eight of the album’s 11 tracks, and the album was completed by the surviving band members during the pandemic lockdown in the U.K. (Greenfield passed away from COVID-19 in May 2020.) In addition to Greenfield on keyboards, the album features founding member Jean-Jacques Brunel (bass, lead and backing vocals), Baz Warne (guitar, lead and backing vocals) and Jim Macaulay (drums, percussion, backing vocals).

The album’s two standout tracks are “And If You Should See Dave…,” a tribute to Greenfield, and “This Song,” The Stranglers’ scintillating cover of “This Song Will Get Me Over You” by the U.K. band The Disciples of Spess. The former is an achingly beautiful elegy for their keyboardist and friend, and it’s bound to bring a tear to the eye and a lump in the throat. A smooth, wonderful song, it includes a cheeky aside to their fallen comrade: “This is where your solo would go.” And the latter may very well be the best rock song of 2021. A high-octane, driving, rocking song featuring Greenfield’s swirling keyboards and the band rocking out full throttle, it is a genuinely exciting listen. (If you haven’t seen the outstanding music video for “This Song” starring the former English soccer player Stuart Pearce, check it out below.)

Dark Matters has several other highlights. “Water” features some heavy-duty playing by the band including Rick Wakeman-like keyboard work from Greenfield. “If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might As Well Be Love)” resembles Kraftwerk instrumentally. It’s something of a disjointed track that has the feel of separate bits that were pieced together, but it works. “No Man’s Land” is a punky, bass-driven track with an in-your-face vocal and majestic keyboard work by Greenfield. It’s full on from start to finish and ends quite abruptly. “The Lines,” which runs all of 97 seconds, has a gentle Brunel vocal at its core. “There’s no hiding place for the lines on my face,” he sings. It’s quite a contrast to the more intense tracks on the album. “Payday” has the feel of an early Elvis Costello track, with its unique keyboard sound and aggressive vocal. It’s a good rock track that takes clueless leaders to task. “The Last Men On The Moon” features some terrific proggy keyboard work by Greenfield toward the end of the song. The album’s closer, “Breathe,” goes back and forth from mellow to heavy.

With Dark Matters, The Stranglers have provided a very worthwhile 18th studio album for their fans as well as a quite fitting farewell to Greenfield.

READ A GOLDMINE INTERVIEW WITH THE STRANGLERS

  

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