The Stranglers - Norfolk Coast

Despite original lead singer Hugh Cornwell leaving the band in 1990 after they'd toured their album "10", The Stranglers have carried on with new frontman Paul Roberts to a successful degree. "Norfolk Coast" is the bands first album for a major label in fourteen years. The rest of the oldest gang in town remains which includes drummer Jet Black, bass playing cool dude Jean-Jacques Burnel and keyboard whizz Dave Greenfield. With a back catalogue featuring classic cuts like "Peaches" and "Golden Brown" new singer Roberts has his work cut out for him replacing such a legendary presence as Cornwell, but amazingly he fits into the group dynamic perfectly.

With a hedonistic past and wild tales of rock n roll excess which would shock the most liberal of people, The Stranglers are underrated as musicians in their own right. They're skilful, tight and play brilliantly together. On their new album this quality keeps up the high standard. Title track "Norfolk Coast" has electronica undertones with a pulsating bass. Robert's deep voice is reminiscent of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and has a slight American edge. For a band brought up during the punk era, the lyrics are surprisingly hippyish, but the loud guitars make up for it dramatically. The jazzy drum beat of "Dutch Moon" leads into a semi-acoustic classic with the crooning voice of Roberts beckoning the listeners interest with sweet harmonies from his band mates. The Spanish guitar adds to the gentle pace and the mellow romantic mood sounds quite continental. More typical Stranglers is the abrasive "Lost Control". The snarling vocal has the line "walking round with bad thoughts in my head" which can possibly be interpreted as a nervous breakdown or approaching mental illness. The guitar licks perfectly capture the dark sentiments with a melody that sweetens the bitterest pill. "Tuckers Grave" has church organs and chilled out atmospherics very much in the spirit of the Doors with lengthy keyboard solos and a vocal eerily close to Michael Hutchens.

"Norfolk Coast" should reinvigorate interest in The Stranglers as the music delivers without one single weak track.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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