They rose to fame during the initial explosion of U.K. punk, but the Stranglers always stood apart from the other bands from the class of 1977. They had been together before punk became the next big thing, and while they had a great talent for being suitably rude and transgressive, their music didn't sound or feel much like the fast-loud guitar-based fury of the Damned, the Sex Pistols, and the Clash. Instead, their music initially suggested a grimy version of '60s garage punk with a sinister psychedelic undertow added by Dave Greenfield's keyboards. And the group didn't often concern themselves with politics or social commentary, preferring to weave tales of sexual decadence, strange relationships, and bad behawior. With the passage of time, the band developed a more pop-oriented sound, still dark but with potent melodies that allowed numbers like "Dutchess," "Only the Sun," and "Golden Brown" to become hit singles.
This gave the Stranglers the time and opportunity to mature, and their songs became more nuanced and their production got cleaner and more user friendly without entirely abandoning the sonic sneer that was always their trademark. Their first two albums, Rattus Norvegicus and No More Heroes (both released in 1977) typified the approach that won them fame, 1981's La Folie and 1984's Aural Sculpture are highlights from their more mature period, and 2004's Norfolk Coast showed the Stranglers were still a potent force even after lineup changes and 30 years in the game.