Wire - Wire

by Gerry Hathaway Rating:10 Release Date:2015-04-13

Arriving a mere two years after the excellent Change Becomes Us, seminal post-punk stalwarts Wire return in what is proving to be the most productive period for the band since their inception 39 years ago. While Change Becomes Us was partially comprised of previously unrecorded live sketches from the first phase of the band (1976-1980), the eponymous album is the group’s first of all-new material since 2011’s Red Barked Tree. The record also contains guitarist Matt Simms first songwriting contributions since joining the band in 2011.

Musically, Wire continues the moody pop-tinged arrangements of their last two albums, with an emphasis on shimmering 60s sensibilities. The overall atmosphere resembles Githead’s material, also fronted by Colin Newman with partner Malka Spigal.

The tracks are anchored by minimal keyboard arrangements giving the songs a lush depth. Newman’s vocals are clear, melodic, and really bring the music to life. Robert Grey’s drumming is a metronomic as its ever been – keeping the beat but not much else.

The record kicks off with 'Blogging', a somber, self-referential post-punk anthem describing disillusionment in the digital age. The surf-rock vibe of 'Shifting' lightens thing up a bit, while tuneful numbers such as 'Burning Bridges', 'In Manchester', and 'High' push the record further into alt-pop territory.

The album downshifts to the slow, churning riffs of 'Sleep-Walking' which melts into an eerie cacophony of effects-laden guitars. 'Joust & Jostle' leads the halfway point with a serviceable melody but does little to hold an impression in its short duration. 'Swallow' is catchy mid-tempo rock balladry, while 'Split Your Ends' and 'Octopus' have a cool psychedelic feel with a dense keyboard bedrock.

The record ends on the shamanistic and droning 'Harpooned', which grinds on a single apocalyptic guitar riff for eight minutes, building and building while bassist Bruce Gilbert howls on in the background. Quite the contrast to the bubblegum material that came before it, but it’s a killer track.

In recent interviews, Colin Newman mentioned that Wire are here to stay, and if this album is an indication of a new period for the band emerging, then I imagine the best is yet to come. To be fair, however, this album will appeal more to fans of A Bell is a Cup versus Chairs Missing, with its highly melodic, 60s vibe.

Regardless, Wire proves that age is only a number when you are as well-oiled as this machine is. This is an excellent, melodic post-punk record that will likely appeal to most fans of the band, yet is clean and slick enough to function as an introduction to newcomers. Recommended. 

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