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Alternative & Indie - Released March 27, 2006 | The state51 Conspiracy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Far from the engaged or nihilistic cries of the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Jam, the one shouted by the London art school students who founded Wire in 1976 rather sounds like a sour laugh, minimalist and caustic. A laugh that doesn’t sound at all like any other with its succession of unexpected chords, its tracks aborted half-way and its endlessly changing rhythms. A rock ‘n’ roll deflagration, ironic and quirky just like its track list: 21 titles in less than 36 minutes! Planted in November 1977, this Pink Flag (and not black like everyone liked them at the time…) blends sharp melodies, dissonant guitars and all wound up rhythms. The position is first and foremost artsy, the name probably less legendary than those of their colleagues at the time, but, in hindsight, the influence from Wire and this first album on the indie rock of the upcoming years is simply huge… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 24, 2020 | pinkflag

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Bang in the middle of the post-punk revival, Wire are here to remind the young rockers of today that they are still the giants of the genre, 43 years after their masterpiece Pink Flag. All comfortably over the sixty year old mark, Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Gotobed have produced a sharp, sombre, dreamlike album. As opposed to the post-punk terrorism of The Fall, Wire has always been much less monolithic, able to seamlessly turn from a feeling of complete oppression (Hung and Oklahoma) to sounding like the soundtrack to a yoga class, worthy of Pink Floyd (Shadows). With battered guitars and electronics, Mind Hive never treats its melodies with any kind of softness or gentitlity: all the better. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released August 7, 1978 | The state51 Conspiracy

Chairs Missing marks a partial retreat from Pink Flag's austere, bare-bones minimalism, although it still takes concentrated listening to dig out some of the melodies. Producer Mike Thorne's synth adds a Brian Eno-esque layer of atmospherics, and Wire itself seems more concerned with the sonic textures it can coax from its instruments; the tempos are slower, the arrangements employ more detail and sound effects, and the band allows itself to stretch out on a few songs. The results are a bit variable -- "Mercy," in particular, meanders for too long -- but compelling much more often than not. The album's clear high point is the statement of purpose "I Am the Fly," which employs an emphasis-shifting melody and guitar sounds that actually evoke the sound of the title insect. But that's not all by any means -- "Outdoor Miner" and "Used To" have a gentle lilt, while "Sand in My Joints" is a brief anthem worthy of Pink Flag, and the four-minute "Practice Makes Perfect" is the best result of the album's incorporation of odd electronic flavors. In general, the lyrics are darker than those on Pink Flag, even morbid at times; images of cold, drowning, pain, and suicide haunt the record, and the title itself is a reference to mental instability. The arty darkness of Chairs Missing, combined with the often icy-sounding synth/guitar arrangements, helps make the record a crucial landmark in the evolution of punk into post-punk and goth, as well as a testament to Wire's rapid development and inventiveness. ~ Steve Huey
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Rock - Released September 1, 1979 | The state51 Conspiracy

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Rock - Released April 13, 2015 | pinkflag

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 31, 2017 | pinkflag

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On Silver/Lead, Wire celebrate their 40th anniversary by throwing some intentional kinks into their well-oiled machinery. Much of their music in the 2010s was as fast-paced as their release schedule, but on their 15th album, they're slower and stranger than they've been in years. Aside from the swift guitar pop of "In a Short Elevated Period," this album doesn't blaze like Change Becomes Us or Nocturnal Koreans; instead, it turns the energy of those albums inward on songs that shimmer like silver and have the heft of lead. Wire are just as keenly observant when they're introspective as when they take aim at the outside world, and when Colin Newman sings "be a good witness of all that you've seen" on the minor-key T. Rex riffage of "Diamonds in Cups," it's an apt description of their modus operandi. Meanwhile, the grinding opener "Playing Harp for the Fishes," which features bassist Graham Lewis on vocals, revives the darkly surreal ruminations that this incarnation of the band seemed to have left behind. The feeling that Silver/Lead's songs should be faster creates a different kind of tension that's arguably more provocative, and interesting, than a barrage of rapid-fire tempos. "An Alibi" is an uneasy post-punk lullaby, while the ironically named "Brio" evokes the languid spaciness of Pink Floyd as well as the desolation Wire mastered decades ago. Slowing things down also lets the melancholy that bubbled under on Wire come to the surface, and Silver/Lead delivers some of the band's prettiest, and saddest, music in some time. Newman imbues "Sleep on the Wing" with a highly literate, ever so slightly ominous sorrow, while Lewis' weary baritone is used perfectly on "This Time," where he sings "this time is gonna be better" to a melody that sounds like a lie the moment it leaves his lips. And when he sings "Ooh darling/I want you to stay" on "Forever & a Day," it shows just how much power naked emotion can have in the hands of a band as famously cerebral and aloof as this one. As precise as ever yet oddly moving, Silver/Lead reaffirms that Wire are more like mercury, shape-shifting effortlessly while remaining true to the things that have always made them great. ~ Heather Phares
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Rock - Released April 22, 2016 | pinkflag

Wire reaped rich creative rewards in the 2010s by revisiting and reinventing their past. On 2013's Change Becomes Us, the band gave a batch of songs from 1979 and 1980 the studio treatment with results that balanced their art-punk heyday and their more contemplative 21st century sound brilliantly. Wire don't look back quite as far on the mini-album Nocturnal Koreans, but their (re)inventive spirit serves them well once again. They developed these songs while working on 2015's Wire, setting them aside to add more elaborate sonics, or as the band put it, "studio trickery." Sometimes this trickery is subtle: "Nocturnal Koreans" takes Wire's whispery intensity in a slightly lusher direction, serving as a bridge between that album and more elaborate tracks like "Internal Exile," which incorporates lap steel and trumpet -- two instruments not usually associated with the band's palette -- into an anthem of futility that imbues Wire's 2010s malaise with a more organic, affecting feel. While Nocturnal Koreans may be more embellished, there's no filler within its 26 minutes. Interestingly, it's also more immediate than its more straightforward predecessor. Wire's songs were so cohesive that they took several listens to penetrate fully, but hearing the band widen its sounds and moods -- and subvert expectations -- offers instant gratification. The jabbing riffs on "Numbered"'s verses (as well as lyrics like “You think I’m a number/Still willing to rhumba”) are classic Wire, and are soon overtaken by a galloping Krautrock beat and droning electronics. Meanwhile, "Still"'s doubled drums and major chords give it a swagger that nevertheless feels of a piece with the band's incisive, questioning attitude. Nocturnal Koreans also finds Wire expressing that attitude with more emotional range than they have in a while, whether on the haunting "Forward Position," where Colin Newman intones “I am black box, I remember/Every promise that you broke,” or on the surreal "Fishes Bones," where Graham Lewis' declamatory vocals lead the rest of the band into increasingly psychedelic territory. Even if Nocturnal Koreans' sound isn't always textbook Wire, its imagery and wit most certainly are, making the album much more than the collection of leftovers its origins might have suggested. ~ Heather Phares
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Electronic/Dance - Released August 6, 2004 | Mute, a BMG Company

Wire's first new full-length effort in eight years, The Ideal Copy is a stunning comeback picking up where 154 left off while also reflecting the strides made by the members' solo work. Finding its footing in dark, edgy dance rhythms and ominous digital textures, The Ideal Copy is experimental and forward-thinking, spanning from the buzzing melodies of "Ahead" and "Ambitious" to the taut minimalism of "Feed Me"; the record has its flaws, but its restless creative spirit and refusal to rest on past glories make it one of the few reunion efforts that actually matters. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Pop/Rock - Released January 10, 2011 | pinkflag

In an interview with Crawdaddy magazine after the band regrouped in 2000, Wire frontman and guitarist Colin Newman said that the band's original intention was to destroy rock & roll by removing the roll from the equation. Drummer Robert Grey (aka Robert Gotobed), played a large part in the removal of "the roll" from the band's music. His straightforward timekeeping eschewed fills and cymbal splashes in favor of a simple, driving rhythm that gave much of the band's music its linear, avant-garde feel. But despite their roots in punk, they've always had a few tunes on every album that could pass for pop hits, and that holds true here. "Please Take" opens the record with its warm melodic feel, even if the lyrics ("Please take your knife out of my back") are anything but the usual pop fodder. The album ends with another pop gem, "Red Barked Trees," a polished tune that sounds like a psychedelic-era Beatles number, complete with a scathing lyric that lays out the ills of modern society with bitter irony. The rest of the album ranges over the styles that have made the band so hard to pin down. "Two Minutes" is a punk screed about hating everyone and everything, driven by Gray's measured pounding and distorted clanging guitars, "Moreover" is a noisy rock/rap tune driven by short, sharp lyrical bursts, grinding guitar, and Gray's steady traps, and "Smash," another clattering, linear punk tune that's actually broken up by a chorus. Red Barked Tree is another strong effort, and while Wire is still making music that shatters expectations, after 30 years they're sounding a lot like the mainstream rockers they once despised. ~ j. poet
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Electronic/Dance - Released March 1, 2004 | Mute, a BMG Company

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Electronic/Dance - Released February 5, 2007 | Mute, a BMG Company

1985-1990: The A List is a fine 16-track compilation of the highlights from Wire's surprising and successful comeback. This material isn't quite as essential as their early output -- Wire doesn't sound as revolutionary on these sides, although the music is still high-quality. It bears some similarities to the sort of '80s college-radio synth/guitar pop being produced by the likes of New Order and the Cure, although it isn't as danceable, and it retains Wire's signature love of dissonance and pure sonic oddity. The more controlled, polished sound of this material may tone down the heady excitement of their early albums, or seem a bit mechanical at times, but it's intriguing to hear the high-tech production values that were missing from their initial attempts at creating layers of detail in their arrangements, and there are some fine pop songs here as well. The A List could have been sequenced better -- its track listing was determined through a poll of fans, various critics, and band associates, and the selections were simply arranged according to which ones received the largest number of votes, meaning that the compilation loses a little steam since many of the best songs appear toward the beginning. Still, that's a minor flaw, especially since The A List is such a handy overview of the band's uneven comeback albums. It's the best way to hear catchy slices of post-punk avant-pop like "Ahead," "Kidney Bingos," "Eardrum Buzz," and "In Vivo," and for all but the most devoted, The A List is probably all that's necessary from this period. ~ Steve Huey
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 22, 2019 | pinkflag

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Pop/Rock - Released September 22, 2008 | pinkflag

Although a playful, self-referential title marks the 47th entry in Wire's discography, the band definitely isn't looking back. Some familiar motifs inevitably resurface, but there's no such thing as a predictable Wire album: that's especially true of this, their first without guitarist Bruce Gilbert. Overall, Object 47 is the antithesis of Send, its immediate predecessor. Send was wonderfully claustrophobic and compressed, painted mostly in aggressive, industrial-sized brush strokes eschewing nuance and variation and emphasizing surface over depth; Object 47 trades harsh monochrome for expansive wide-screen color and a pronounced melodic sensibility. Across these nine tracks, diverse new textures and dimensions emerge and, despite being typically elliptical, the words communicate a broader emotional range than Send displayed, with its tendency towards terse phrase-clusters. From the outset, Wire is a band reborn and reenergized. The anthemic "One of Us" sets the agenda, propelled by Graham Lewis and Robert Grey's relentless rhythms. Its lyrics stand in tonal contrast to the music (a trademark Wire tactic): "one of us will live to rue the day we met each other" warns Colin Newman, against the grain of the singalong bounce. Regardless of their legendary artistic contrariness, Wire always deliver catchy songs and, in addition to the opener, Object 47 boasts several. On "Perspex Icon," the combination of stop-start buzzsaw guitar rhythms with Newman's bright, tuneful vocal proves highly infectious. Equally memorable are Lewis' turns at the mic -- the funky "Are You Ready?" and "Mekon Headman," a denser, more insistent number accentuating the minimalist cymbal detail Grey minted on Pink Flag. Object 47 highlights Wire's pop credentials, but the band hasn't lost its edge. Tempo changes punctuate Massive Attack-style rolling dread on the hefty "Hard Currency"; by contrast, "All Fours" hammers out rigid, astringent grooves as guest guitarist Page Hamilton plugs in with a feedback squall that adds extra menace to the album's apocalyptic coda. ~ Wilson Neate
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Rock - Released November 13, 2006 | pinkflag

This double CD documents two key moments in Wire's development: their debut four-piece appearances on April 1-2, 1977 (five months before making Pink Flag), and one of their earliest U.S. shows from summer 1978, prior to the release of Chairs Missing. The Roxy was initially London's only dedicated punk rock venue and although never part of the punk scene, the band benefited from the exposure that milieu offered: at the club, Wire met Mike Thorne, who recorded their April gigs for his Roxy London WC2 compilation, brought them to EMI, and produced their first three records. In 1977, the quality of Wire's contributions to the Roxy live album ("Lowdown"; "12XU") prompted claims they had been finessed in the studio. Presented in their entirety for the first time, Wire's sets from those shows dispel that myth. Notwithstanding some juvenilia and two comedy covers ("Glad All Over"; "After Midnight"), their complete Roxy performances sound surprisingly disciplined for the shambolic punk era, proving that solid foundations were already in place for Pink Flag. By the time Wire made it to America for a mini-residency at New York's CBGB in July 1978, punk was dead and the band was moving in a radically different musical direction. The material featured here is an abridged version of a set recorded before a small audience (not at CBGB itself but in a nearby space) for broadcast on local station WPIX. Since American audiences had never seen Wire, the band uncharacteristically reprised some Pink Flag tracks. However, most of the songs come from Chairs Missing and explore exciting new territory, particularly the jagged exercises in creepy surrealism "From the Nursery" and "Practice Makes Perfect." Scant live evidence of Wire's exhilarating early phase exists; these recordings start to fill that gap, providing a vivid, fleeting snapshot of a group whose natural state was constant change. ~ Wilson Neate
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Electronic/Dance - Released March 3, 2003 | Mute, a BMG Company

Continuing its fascination with manipulating sounds and radically reworking their own songs, Wire released IT'S BEGINNING TO AND BACK AGAIN (A.K.A. IBTABA), an engaging collection of tracks largely drawn from their 1988 album A BELL IS A CUP UNTIL IT IS STRUCK. While on tour promoting that album, the band recorded a number of live shows. Though songs from two of those performances, one in Chicago and one in Portugal, form the basis for IBTABA, this is not a live album. The band almost entirely restructured the songs in the studio, and the resultant tracks have a very different feel to the original studio versions. Highlights include the catchy "Eardrum Buzz," complete with a sawing bass line, jittering percussion, and sing-along (though very strange) lyrics, and "Public Place," which is reworked into an eerie, spacious ambient excursion with vocals. There's a vastly superior version of THE IDEAL COPY's "Over Theirs," featuring an amped-up phased guitar and a brutal chopping beat, and "The Offer," an uncharacteristically simple-sounding pop song. IBTABA is an essential purchase for fans.
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Pop/Rock - Released July 7, 2008 | pinkflag

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Pop/Rock - Released April 23, 2003 | pinkflag

Send is a quasi-compilation and pseudo-new album from an older and much more ferocious Wire; it plucks seven songs from the two low-key Read & Burn EPs the group released on its own Pink Flag label in 2002 and adds four new ones. This is the culmination, perhaps, of the group's 1999 re-formation -- an outcome that only attendees of the terse performances and buyers of the EPs could have forecasted. Unlike a lot of re-formed groups, Wire chose not to be a jukebox with its old material while performing in front of its multi-generational crowds. The bandmembers didn't merely run through pieces of their beloved discography, or even inject new life into them -- they tore through them with a vigorous energy that teetered on the brink of violence. The new material collected and built on here takes on the same tightly wound, clenched-teeth direction. Thick walls of clamor are constructed on each song. The opening "In the Art of Stopping" is a relatively unassuming din of whipsaw guitars and percussion that could double as the sound of railroad ties being driven into the ground. Colin Newman's voice hectors ominously as it slowly shifts from one channel to the other and back again. All the buzzing sets up the viscous and highly repetitive grinding of "Mr. Marx's Table," where Newman takes on a more hospitable tone. On "Spent," Bruce Gilbert practically screams at the top of his lungs and fights to be heard over an overwhelming bank of industrial guitars that twist with agitated riffs and squeals. The only break from the onslaught comes during the closing "99.9," which takes nearly four minutes to be worked into another rich lather of vibrating menace. Dynamic, taut, feisty, and clever as ever, Send is this group's fourth-best album. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electronic/Dance - Released September 22, 2008 | Mute, a BMG Company

Remixes and alternate versions have become staples of popular music. But while most bands use them as bonus tracks or B-side fodder, Wire is one of the only rock groups to have filled an album with versions of the same song ("Drill"). Built on a paradigmatic Wire rhythm affectionately known as "dugga," "Drill" was born during rehearsals for the band's 1985 return to live performance. A first studio recording appeared on Snakedrill (1986), but in concert the track began to mutate, in both its arrangement and duration (lasting from five to 30 minutes). Inspired by "Drill"'s metamorphoses, in 1989 Wire decided to continue the process in the studio, beyond the constraints imposed by simple live configurations of guitar, bass, and drums. Additionally, the project was approached as a means of feeling out the newer technology to be employed on the next album, Manscape. Six of the nine tracks on The Drill are fruits of that endeavor. Comprising experiments within the genre that would come to be known as electronica, they range from the slower and more fluid (the pulsing "What's Your Desire?") to the frenetic and the fragmented (the perky "Jumping Mint"). Although things come unstuck with "Did You Dugga?" -- which sounds like a cartoon version of house music -- more than adequate compensation is provided by the "Drill"/"12XU" hybrid of "In Every City?" and the live, 12-minute "(A Chicago) Drill." At the time of its release, The Drill ranked among Wire's more idiosyncratic ventures, but considering subsequent work in minimal electronica by other artists, it doesn't seem so strange now. "There can never be enough Drills in the world," Wire guitarist Bruce Gilbert has said, and, if you agree, then you might also be interested in the aptly entitled Dugga Dugga Dugga, an album of "Drill" cover versions. ~ Wilson Neate
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 18, 2014 | pinkflag

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 8, 2020 | pinkflag

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Wire in the magazine