Rating:

4/5

Verdict:

The old gang is back, and conjuring up their very best in a new way

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In the late 70s Wire delivered a trifecta of classic post-punk, minimalist and arty albums -

Pink Flag, Chairs Missing

and

154

- then called it a day. In subsequent decades they reformed, dropping drummer Robert Gotobed to appear as an alt.electro-rock outfit (not much cop).

In the past decade their sound became more aggressive and impressive, Gotobed returned - and now Bruce Gilbert is out.

This incarnation of Wire refers back to that classic period for its elemental minimalism (the aural deja vu of

A Flat Tent

) and brevity of songs (only one of the 11 here passes five minutes, four under three). But there now is a streamlined sheen, and the opener Please Take ("your knife out of my back") is close to first-phase Roxy Music or early Eno. Later

Adapt

and

Bad Worn Thing

are cut from similar cloth, and

Clay

is a relentless dark pop delivered over increasingly noisy guitar.

But - aside from disconcerting lyrics throughout which are droll and sometimes sharply witty - there are blasts of their more recent musical menace here too:

Two Minutes

is mad but disciplined guitar thrash;

Moreover

and

Smash

are crafted Erasehead-grind metallic pop; the brooding

Down to This

rides on electrostatic and repeated guitar and keyboard phrases.

Smart, sharp, approachable and economic, Wire again give art-rock a very good name.

-TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz