I cannot argue with the Observer here. I have been a Wire fan since college, back in the last Ice Age. During the reading period before finals, our college radio station ran “orgies”–blocks of programming dedicated entirely to a single composer or band–and I remember pulling an all-nighter writing a paper during a Wire orgy. “Three Girl Rhumba” is permanently etched in neural channels in my brain as a result. (I have a clip of the opening to that song that I use as a ringtone on occasion.)
So I was not surprised that the band’s latest album was good. What I didn’t necessarily expect was that it would be great. This release, more than 2011’s Red Bark Tree, is a sonic callback to the earliest albums, with strong doses of Pink Flag (1977) and Chairs Missing (1978). (The band’s 2013 release, Change Becomes Us, is also a reflection of the early days, but that is to be expected, as the songs on that one were unreleased tracks from 1979-80.)
Through the liquid flow of bass and keyboards, Colin Newman’s vocals take on a slightly muted tone, as if burbling up out of a well. The lyrics are tuned to modern life – the lead-off track, “Blogging,” is a sharp look at our mobile (as in device) culture – but the sounds are classic Wire. The band’s line-up is not the same as it was 35 years ago, but the music is a solid return to the original sensibility that struck such a chord in me back then.