It’s been 21 years since Hugh Cornwell left The Stranglers. Since then they’ve continued as a festival highlight with vocals from founder JJ Burnel and current guitarist Baz Warne, had a taste of post-millennial chart success with Norfolk Broads, and, amazingly, continue to make decent records.
Giants is no exception, starting with the thunderous jazz-punk instrumental Another Camden Afternoon, going off like a bastard on Freedom Is Insane, and charging off like a stately boxer through the rest of the album.
They play like their drummer isn’t 71 (Jet Black is here photo’ed with an oxygen mask, which may or may not be mordant humour) and there isn’t a bad song here, from the mighty title track to the epic Time Was Once On My Side, which manages to sound like The Stranglers’ entire career in one song.
It’s rare for any group to be even half this good after so many years; perhaps Burnel’s inherent mardiness (not to mention keyboard player Dave Greenfield’s slight oddness) give them an edge over younger, weaker bands.
Fans can buy this for pleasure rather than from duty (and have fun spotting old Stranglers riffs being put to modern use), while the innocent public should listen and whimper. A splendid continuance of form.