The Stranglers

Suite XVI

When Hugh Cornwell left the Stranglers in 1990, they were already in decline. Radio-ready pop singles and formulaic songwriting had replaced the snarling anger and threatening sexuality that made their sound so unique. After several personnel shifts, the band has settled down again with original members Dave Greenfield, J.J. Burnel, Jet Black and relative-newbie guitarist Baz Warne. Musically, they still sound sinister, with Greenfield’s Manzarek-like keyboards and Burnel’s roiling bass anchoring the sound. It’s on the songwriting front that the band shows its age. New melodic and lyrical ideas are few and far between. “Bless You (Save You, Spare You, Damn You)” is a solid bit of faux-Bacharach ’60s pop, but the hokey country twang of “I Hate You” is an embarrassment.