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Wire - Send

  by Denzil Watson

published: 13 / 7 / 2003

Wire - Send
Label: Flag
Format: CD


Far-from-pretty, butspectacular post-punk rock from the much acclaimed Wire, returning with their first new studio album in ten years

After a gap of nigh on ten years Watford Art College's most famous alumni, Wire, return with a new studio LP. And while technically it's a compilation (featuring four cuts from mini LP 'Read and Burn 1', matched with an equal number from it's mail-only successor 'Read and Burn 2' and the addition of three new tracks) it makes for utterly compulsive listening. Everyone loves a bit of history so the song goes. When Wire first exploded on the punk scene back in the late 70's with their seminal LP 'Pink Flag' they were arguably already one step ahead of many of their new wave counterparts. After three critically acclaimed LP's(pay witness to Elastica's almost wholesale rip-off of Wire's sonic blueprint) they disbanded in 1980, only to reinvent themselves in the late 80's. With a radically new sound and a stubborn refusal to acknowledge their illustrious past (even to the extent of hiring tribute act the Ex-Lion Tamers on a US tour to play their back catalogue) they surged forward, hitting the heights with ethereal indie classics such as 'Ahead' and 'Kidney Bingos'. After an equally lengthy absence Wire are back with us, once again featuring the original line-up (Colin Newman - guitars and trademark vocals, Richard Gotobed - drums, Bruce Gilbert - guitars and Graham Lewis - bass) and they mean business. Gone are all the indie pleasantries of their second stint. 'Send' is a brutal lesson in crushing rhythms, abrasive guitars and a whole truck-load of bile. Not forgetting of course the vital Wire ingredients of a good hook and a large helping of irony. Bruising their way through eleven tracks it's hard to imagine how, 26 years on, four post-fifty somethings can make such a vital and energetic racket to rival that of 1977's 'Pink Flag'. Yes, 'Send' really is that good. Opener 'All in the Art of Stopping' is the pick of the bunch - vintage Wire with it's hypnotic, surging rhythm and left-field humour (key line "it's all in the art of stopping" followed, of course, by a stop). Send's one true 'pop' moment. Whether 'Mr Marx's Table' turns out to be self-biographical or not ("You've come a long, long way, for such a short stay") time will only tell. 'Comet' burns brightly and intensely with its tongue-in-cheek chorus "and the chorus goes, and the chorus goes blah, blah, blah, blah." The rather abstract 'The Agfers of Kodack' is all buzzing, scorching guitars, while the cyber-stomp pop of 'Nice streets Above' is a throbbing mantra with lyrics of equally perplexing proportions. And just when you think things can't become any more intense along come more sonic pyrotechnics in the shape of 'Spent' and 'Read and Burn', with their barking, aggressive vocal lines and intertwining guitar riffs. The sudden change to the terminally depressing doom-gloom dirge of 'You Can't Leave Now' only increases it's impact as we see-saw between despair and utter despair while Colin Newman switches between his trademark drawl and a higher vocal register. The final post-seven minute assault of '99.9' finishes things off in a fitting manner. So there we have it. Again Wire surge ahead of the field, redefining their sound and innovating, leaving their contemporaries to splash around in their retro quagmires (naming no names, but you know who you are). And while 'Spent' is neither an easy listen, nor pretty, cutting edge post-punk-rock doesn't come much better than this.

Track Listing:-
1 In the Art of Stopping
2 Mr Marx's Table
3 Being Watched
4 Comet
5 The Agfers of Kodack
6 Nice Streets Above (full version)
7 Spent
8 Read & Burn
9 You Can't Leave Now
10 Half Eaten
11 99.9

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