This is Wire's third album and was an icy example of the sort of dark art rock that was around at the time. There was however something special about Wire. They never were content to sit still and so each album is a development on the last. Certainly this is one of their albums that could be considered a masterpiece. Now comes with loads of bonus demo material and B sides.
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10/10 Dan John Customer review, 5th April 2014
I saw a video where Wire were asked “is your music for depressive, lonely people?”. Their curt response ; “No”, though you can see what the interviewer was getting at listening to this album. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good or bad thing. The album is dark and moody and a quintessential example of late-70s post-punk, with all the angst and darkness that implies. Released in 1979, at the peak of the movement, it found Wire at their conceptual and musical peak. I hear conflicting opinions about whether this or ‘Chairs Missing’ is their masterpiece, but for me this album clearly takes that title. It is an absolute cornerstone of any post-punk collection, the least ‘pop’ of their first three classic albums, but the one that most rewards repeated listens. The music feels icy, with a wonderful coldness to it, just listen to ‘A Touching Display’; this is great art that combines innovative instrumentation, soundscapes, yet retains the hooks. The way the song breaks down at the end is thrilling, the grumble of feedback like a flick of distain. It’s just a fantastic album throughout, full of ideas with fantastic production. Coming back to listen to it again I’m struck by how many tunes and ditties underpin the music, the lineage of the first three Wire albums is so strong, you can hear ‘Pink Flag’ in there occasionally and the deeper end of ‘Chairs Missing’, yet this album goes further into experimentation and soundscapes. For a band that produced one album a year from 1977 to 1979 the speed of the evolution is astounding, they were rushing into the new in the spirit of the times. I remember reading people at the time said that they hardly listened to any old music, such was the pace of fantastic music being created there wasn’t enough time to look back! To be part of such an exhilarating period must be quite something, this album captures that excitement and innovatation, the conflicts of the human spirit and it’s ongoing struggle with darkness and light. Essential.
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