ALBUM REVIEW: Wire – Wire | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Pink Flag

Released: 13.04.15

More information on the Pink Flag website

 

It was typical of Wire to use their recent 6 Music Festival appearance not as an opportunity to remind viewers and listeners of their vast and impressive back catalogue, but instead to play a set entirely taken from a new self-titled album, that none of the audience could have heard by that point. Wire have never taken the easy path and never quite fitted in.

When punk happened, they were unlikely bedfellows with the rest of the scene, the art school kids who actually paid attention in class; as un-punk as fellow travellers XTC in their own way (although admittedly XTC never appeared on the scene-defining Roxy compilation). And thus it has continued over the subsequent four decades – hiatus followed by rebirth, reinvention followed by consolidation.

So now to album number 13: Wire isn’t a classic Wire album but it is a very good one. As ever, the focus is on marrying pop sensibilities to something more conceptual, more arch. Opener Blogging is typical – a breezy motorik chug with a wry lyrical dissection of our digital lives. There’s no judgement, no critique, just some carefully chosen buzzwords that tell their own story (“Amazon wishlist…blackberry hedge fund”). Most of the album is in a similar vein – beautifully constructed and deceptively simple but often with a dark, unheimlich heart. New boy Matthew Timms’ impact on the album is subtle but effective; the fly in the ointment, as it were. At times the album sounds a little dated but then you remember that’s because Wire influenced EVERYBODY. (I’d never realised before how much the much missed Disco Inferno owed to Wire’s approach to a subtle dislocation of the pop aesthetic). A few tracks stand out – Joust & Jostle has a little more fire in its belly than the rest, for example – but it’s not until the huge closing track Harpooned that Wire really cut loose; eight and a half minutes of surging riffs and glorious feedback that remind you what Wire are capable of when they get stuck in.

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