Wire: Silver/Lead (Pink Flag/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Short Elevated Period
Wire: Silver/Lead (Pink Flag/Southbound)

While many of their UK post-punk peers trade on their former (in)glorious past or re-form to trot out the old tropes and phlegm for fans, Wire have rarely looked back and moved on from those three cornerstone albums in the late Seventies: Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154.

They might have faltered from time to time, and reduced then expanded their membership, but they never really stopped working and turned their once-minimalist alt.pop into an art project which could just as well exist on the dancefloor or the pop charts.

It was in the nature of their abrasive style that the latter didn't beckon them, but they were always a powerful pop quotient in them . . . evident here on the scouring, distorted power-pop of Short Elevated Period which also comes in at the perfect pop single length of 2.54 and boasts a big chorus held back until right at the end. LIke Husker Du does the Bats, or something like that.

And there's the fuzz-pop of the slower Diamonds in Cups which has an emotional elevation which soars on wings of dense guitars and is driven by the metronomic time-keeping of drummer Robert Grey.

Clocking in at barely 37 minutes, these 10 songs pack their punches and information into songs where there is no fat.

The gristle remains however, even on the sort-of love songs Forever and a Day where the monochrome backdrop sounds like it has been transported in from some other sentiment.

Whatever messages are buried in these lyrics they are – and this is typical of Wire – coded, disguised, oblique and closed. That has always made them a difficult but interesting proposition.

An Alibi comes as a series of shuffled questions over a monochromatic dirge which swells then retreats.

Although they have, as noted, rarely looked back, some songs here (Sonic Lens, This Time, the brooding title track) have reference point back four decades . . . although have been twisted into more contemporary and menacing shapes.

Wire, especially in the past five years, have proven themselves one of the most consistently interesting bands to have emerged from the post-punk era and to have survived as, if not always innovative at least not constantly trawling their past to replicate it for consumer consumption.

(When they did for Change Becomes Us in 2013 they re-invented the old songs)

Check the lovely Sleep on the Wing which effects an Eno-like dream state coupled with the staccato guitars of Colin Newman and Matt Simms.

And it's a pop-length three minutes.

For more on Wire at Elsewhere start here

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Various Artists: Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (For the Sake of the Song)

Various Artists: Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (For the Sake of the Song)

The late Van Zandt is hardly the little-known cult artist he once was: there are many tribute albums (Steve Earle most recently) and his estate must coin it in from all the covers alt.country... > Read more

Justin Townes Earle: Midnight at the Movies (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Justin Townes Earle: Midnight at the Movies (Bloodshot/Southbound)

Being the son of Steve Earle and named for Townes Van Zant might seem a burden to many (just how many step-mothers do you have? wasn't Townes a troubled man?) but it seems to rest easy enough with... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Buena Vista Social Club: Live at Carnegie Hall (Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Buena Vista Social Club: Live at Carnegie Hall (Elite)

A decade on and the Buena Vista Social Club story just keeps being told: there was the original album, the Wim Wenders doco, the solo albums by various members, the touring, the t-shirts . . .... > Read more

John Key Trio: Back and Forth (Odd)

John Key Trio: Back and Forth (Odd)

Because there is so little money to be made out of releasing a local jazz album, you are surprised to find anyone bothering at all. And that may explain the nine year gap between this by... > Read more