Few bands are worth a biography but Britain's Wire certainly earned the just-published Read & Burn, which traces their story from influential post-punk minimalists (the first three albums) into art projects, electronica-engagement, side projects and back into sometimes searing rock (on the excellent Red Barked Tree two years ago).
This album connects quite a few of those dots: they went through unreleased and unrefined live material from their classic period (77-80) and used the ideas as the starter's gun to bend the material into other shapes. So here are electro-influenced pop (the brief Keep Exhaling, Re-Invent Your Second Wheel, Love Bends), wide-screen prog-metal (Adore Your Island), flat-tack rock takes on their former reductiveness (Stealth of a Stork), delicious ambient-landscape ballads (B/W Silence, & Much Besides), unease (Time Lock Fog, Attractive Space), social politics (Eels Sang, As We Go) and more. So, yes, this hydra-headed collection comes with multiple hyphens, but that's its strength. It's an album of the old style, one that looks for boundaries and heads towards them at speed rather than sits in the safe place. Wire rarely made safe music in their 35-year off-on career and, pleasingly, they aren't starting now.
Recommended to old fans, the willing and seat-belt wearers.
Verdict: Through the past, sharply
- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz