The new Stranglers offering, Giants, opens up with a guitar riff that stands somewhere between John Lee Hooker and Metallica’s Enter Sandman. That normally would send people scurrying off to find a reason for the change in style, the departure from the Stranglers’ norm. However it really is the start of an album that stands as one of the finest that the band have ever delivered.

Giants is the first studio album from The Stranglers in six years and for an act whose work has stretched across five different decades and thrilled millions of fans, it’s been a long tortuous wait. All is forgiven though within 30 seconds of the opener Another Camden afternoon. This eye opening instrumental is just one of a multitude of songs that will defy the age of impersonal music “wannabes” and set a high standard of intelligent music that will get under your skin, take residence there for all time and leave you demanding that all albums, no matter the genre, no matter the artist are as good.

It is the band’s 19th album and after so many years in a business that has tried to resist one of the great survivors of slapdash music trends it might be a thought that goes through the band to finally say “that’s it” but in all candour, why should they when songs as dramatic and well-crafted as Freedom is Insane can capture the moment perfectly. It is lyrically superior and demands that your ears sit back, relax briefly and prepare to be aurally assaulted in a way that made the storming of the Bastille look like a Sunday School outing.

The band have taken their time on this album and it should be noted that they have gone down an avenue of musical perfection rarely afforded the chance to any group. Even to the point where the outstanding and interesting album cover, although possibly macabre also has a great picture ridden joke on its front, so good to see this type of artistic image making a comeback on albums.

There are many stand out tracks, far too many really for one review, however the imagination that guides us as human beings surely cannot be just merely thrilled by the songs Mercury Rising, My Fickle Resolve and the title track Giants, this is timeless music for the modern age.

For those lucky enough to get the deluxe set, there is a tremendous opportunity to hear the acoustic set from last year’s Stranglers convention in London. This bonus C.D. offers fans a real chance to hear the band in a mellower mode but none the less still entertaining and educational to anyone with even a passing musical interest. It encompasses tracks rarely heard in the venues and the only moan, if that’s even the right word to use, is that it reminds the listener just how good the band really is at all times and in everything they do.