This album is not about the Baltimore drug scene. It’s not about how to transfer money. It’s not about insulating your house. It’s our first submission for UnGoogleable Album of the Year 2015. Wire’s 13th album, their first self-titled, is the return of a punkband that has been going for almost 40 years. That’s above the average life expectancy of anybody in a punk band, and hence an impressive feat in its own right. Hopefully the album is equally impressive.
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They are still going. But there’s nothing wrong with that if they’ve still got something to say. Thing is, Wire’s taut mystery rock runs out of steam at times on this their 13th album.
It starts off pretty fine, Wire these days peddle an usual kind of robotic rock. Their sound is a reserved, programmed take on rock music and on the opening tracks this is very much a positive thing. ‘Blogging’ (they understand the modern era) is a nice descending piece of art rock. This passionless approach also works well on my favourite track ‘Shifting’ in which guitars and keyboards blend nicely into almost gothy shapes over which Colin Newman’s pleasantly conversational voice spits out shards of melody -it kind of sounds like a sleepy Killing Joke. This blueprint remains on ‘Burning Bridges’ and another early highlight is ‘In Manchester’ which reflects its gloomy rain-drenched titular city.
From thereon though the very strengths of the opening quartet sometimes become its weaknesses as the album starts to plod. Where the metronomic drums kept things clean leaving the melodies to flow, you start to wonder whether they are using the same drum pattern on each track. Its very sleepiness starts to disturb and the lack of dynamics suggests a record made by one person under a cloak of darkness whilst trying not to wake the neighbours. It is at times lifeless and at times repeating old tricks but their melodic instincts remain.
Wire are growing old gracefully and there’s plenty enough here of interest to keep fans (particularly those of their mid '80’s melodic leanings) satisfied.
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