In the first phase of Wire’s musical history as a band, they carved out an original niche for themselves. PINK FLAG was brief, terse, jamming complexity into short influential tunes. CHAIRS MISSING increased the length and opened their attitude a bit. 154 (My favorite Wire album) added synthesizers and a bit more melody. What all three records had in common was a chilly intellectual precision both in the music and the lyrics.
After Wire broke up and got back together again later in the 1980’s, they pursued a more commercial sound. The chilliness in their music gave way to something close to New Wave dance music and the chilliness in their lyrics gave way to what were often meaningless word couplings.
This last decade, further reunions have produced better results. I wrote about their last album RED BARKED TREE here http://rgdinmalaysia.blogspot.com/2011/04/music-round-up-for-2011-so-far.html which I thought was a genuine return to their original sound and liked very much.
Well, Wire’s latest album CHANGE BECOMES US is even better than RED BARKED TREE. I gather from interviews I’ve read that these were old songs written in their first incarnation that were meant to be on a fourth album that never happened due to Wire breaking up.
Despite coming from that particular period in Wire’s music, these songs are surprisingly approachable. Aside from the bubbling, comforting synths, the singing is open not so clipped, dare I say on a few songs even warm? Lyrically, they are once again couching things in poetry explosions. For once there are as many good slow songs as fast ones. Generally, the songs due to Colin Newman’s singing style and the atmosphere of the electronics remind one that the distance between Wire and Joy Division was not that great. Wire’s world/music view was however much less self-involved, insular.
Best songs after a couple listens – Love Bends, Time Lock Fog, Keep Exhaling, B/W Silence, As We Go, Adore Your Island, Magic Bullet