Under Review: Wire – Red Barked Tree

If there’s a band that’s reliably unpredictable, it’s Wire. The legendary post-punks, in the fleeting moments of each reunion, never fail to concoct albums that sound both fresh and familiar. It could be that their proclivity for brief songs forces them to pack as much goodness into two minutes as possible. It could also be that, over 35 years and 12 albums, they simply have it down. On their latest, Red Barked Tree, Wire prove that, yes, they can still make heavy, melodic and exciting music. Coming a few years after the mostly okay Object 47, Red Barked Tree showcases the many moods of Colin, Graham and Robert (Bruce Gilbert is currently in the ‘off-again’ portion of his tenure). Pure punk energy sizzles through “Two Minutes” and surprisingly tuneful opener “Please Take.” A brisk dance beat underscores “Bad Worn Thing,” and the thunderous “Moreover” pushes the band’s rhythmic fixations into the red.

As on the classic Chairs Missing, plenty of time on Red Barked Tree is set aside for more atmospheric experiments, with “Down To This” and the raga-y title track closing the disc with a sinister gentleness. This is not the sound of a band trying to recapture their glory days, because, for Wire, these are the glory days. Wire’s notoriety came more from later bands citing their influence then from initial success. As such, it’s only fitting that Wire’s recent material suggests that they’ll be influencing bands for decades to come. Red Barked Tree isn’t about to replace Pink Flag, but it is a testament to the group’s staying power as well as their continued ingenuity.

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~ by E. on January 12, 2011.

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