The band began several years before the Punk explosion in Britain, originating from prepunk Blues, Jazz and Psychedelic backgrounds; their sound was much more technically skilled and literate than their contemporaries, and they were one of the few Punk bands to make liberal use of keyboards. They also had what one music critic described as a Monty Python-esque sense of absurdity, which appeared to everyone else as abject sexism and racism. Regardless, they managed a loyal following and plenty of chart-success, while having a shaky relationship with the music press.
Their sound has changed over the years, becoming more experimental, then more pop accessible, and right back to a classic-era revival that they are currently going through now. Their classic lineup included Hugh Cornwell on guitar, Jean-Jacques Burnel on bass, Dave Greenfield on keyboards, and Jet Black on drums. Cornwell was the main singer, though Burnel takes the lead vocals on many of their songs. Cornwell left the band in 1990, being briefly replaced by John Ellis from The Vibrators before current guitarist Baz Warne settled in during 2000.
No More Tropes Anymore:
- Bile Fascination: From "Ugly":"I'd like to see a passionate film between the two ugliest people in the world. When I say 'ugly', I don't mean rough looking; I mean hideous!"
- Concept Album: The Gospel According to the Meninblack, about alien visitation, the titular Men in Black, and their connection to Biblical narratives.
- Death Song: "Dagenham Dave", about a late friend of the band
- Disproportionate Retribution: From "Ugly":"I guess I shouldn't have strangled her to death but
I had to go to work and she had laced my coffee with acid
Normally I wouldn't have minded, but I'm allergic to sulfuric acid
Besides, she had acne
And if you got acne, well, I apologize for disliking you intensely"
- The '80s
- Girl Watching: "Peaches"
- Gratuitous French: "La Folie"
- Guttural Growler: JJ Burnel
- Intercourse with You: "Bring on the Nubiles"
- Lead Bassist: Burnel takes lead about as often as Cornwell in the early days. Even more so since Cornwell left.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Unlike certain other British Punk bands of the time, The Stranglers' keyboard-heavy sound rarely got above (and only occasionally reached) a 5 on this scale. In fact, many of their tunes are in the 3-4 range, especially on their later albums.
- New Wave Music: One of the pioneers with their more melodic, keyboard-heavy take on Punk Rock.
- Psychedelic Rock: A key part of their sound. One piece of promotional material described them as "Angry Psychedelia".
- Punk Rock: Part of the first wave of British Punk Rock.
- The '70s
- Step Up to the Microphone: Keyboardist Dave Greenfield sings "Peasant in the Big Shitty", "Dead Ringer", "Do You Wanna", "Genetix", and "Four Horsemen".
- Uncommon Time: "Peasant in the Big Shitty" is in 9/4, and part of "Golden Brown" is in 13/4.
- Visual Pun: The cover art for Aural Sculpture is a sculpture of an ear.