80's, Acoustic, Dissonant, Intimist, Low vocals, Melancholic, Old School, Punk
"Marked by the death of its iconic keyboardist, the Stranglers' new album invites us to travel through a dark universe sprinkled with flashes of light."
ADRIANSTORK (03.09.2021)  
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On May 3, 2020, Dave Greenfield the keyboard wizard took his leave. This great architect of the Stranglers' sound, who had given his letters of nobility to keyboards in a rock band, was no more. While the four Stranglers were in the middle of recording, his death seemed to sound the death knell of the band. Jean-Jacques Burnel, now the last of the original members still active (Jet Black had retired after a stroke, replaced by Jim Macaulay), could have put an end to this unique band that the media never really respected. But after mourning, the bassist decided to continue his mission, first by completing the recording of the album and then by going to defend it on stage in tribute to Dave.

"Dark Matters" is an album name that smells of sulfur. The gloomy cover echoes the hanged men of "Giants" by showing four Moaïs from Easter Island. If it is possible to link this dark atmosphere to Dave's definitive absence, one should not forget that the Stranglers have always cultivated flowers of darkness - they were not called the men in black for nothing! Dave Greenfield is present on eight of the eleven songs, as if his sparkling keyboard playing is now coming to us from beyond the grave. Among the three other songs is the direct tribute 'And If You Should See Dave', also released as a single. A rather quiet track on which Jean-Jacques Burnel lays his warm voice and salutes the memory of the keyboardist. The track is devoid of keyboards but with a complicit spirit, the bassist sings: "That's where your solo should be". A clip was even shot, highlighting Dave Greenfield's passion for cars with some references to the Stranglers (the rats, the Regent Theater in Los Angeles, place of Dave's last concert, an atmosphere close to the clip of 'All Roads Lead To Rome'...).

However, it would be wrong to listen to this album only under the unique angle of Dave Greenfield's death, because this one is present on the quasi-totality of the recording. Nine years after "Giants", the Stranglers prove paradoxically that the unity of the band is well intact from the first track. On "Water", each instrument enters the scene after the others to lead to catchy rock chords before letting go. The band finds a balance between elements of the past and modernity. 'If Something's Gonna Kill Me (It Might As Well Be Love)' with its harpsichord, which sketches a waltz before an electronic sound takes over. As in the great hours, 'Payday' puts forward the fulminating bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel. 'No Man's Land', with its acidic verses and unifying chorus, suddenly gives way to Dave's experimental and orgasmic keyboard solo, reminiscent of 'Nice In Sleazy', while 'White Stallion' is reinforced by a few violins and a singer's voice for a guaranteed epic effect. The Stranglers can count on their two complementary singers, the vocals being shared between a raging and cold Jean-Jacques Burnel while the voice of Baz Warne, the guitarist, is more aggressive, in short the union of ice and fire. The album has no real hit, each of the tracks working like puzzle pieces and none - except maybe the tribute to Dave - can be isolated.

The band's propensity to surprise us is still there: two notable curiosities that stand out with the darkness are to be noticed. The first one, 'The Lines', an intimate and quite touching song where the bassist gives himself up naked in a reflection on the effects of time on man. The second one, 'Down', is a nostalgic ballad almost acoustic on which the magnetic voice of the bass player is comforting. To conclude the album, 'Breath' relies on a stormy atmosphere carried by the voice, the acoustic guitar and the keyboards. The themes of the band are always engaged and propose a reflection on our world without falling into ideology, from the failure of the Arab Spring to the problem of the pollution of space by man. 

Despite the death of Dave Greenfield, the Stranglers are still alive, managing to combine the band's unique sounds without ever sounding like they are copying themselves. "Dark Matters" is both a superb album in the continuity of the Stranglers' aesthetic but also distinguishes itself by proposing through dark compositions flashes of light.
- Official website

01. Water
02. This Song
03. And If You Should See Dave...
04. If Something's Gonna Kill Me (It Might as Well Be Love)
05. No Man's Land
06. The Lines
07. Payday
08. Down
09. he Last Men on the Moon
10. White Stallion
11. Breathe

Baz Warne: Chant / Guitares
Dave Greenfield: Claviers
Jean-Jacques Burnel: Basse
Jim Macaulay: Batterie
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Music Waves met Jean-Jacques Burnel, bassist and singer of the Stranglers, but recently the only active founding member of the English band.
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