Wire

Red Barked Tree

Pink Flag

Jan 03, 2011 Issue #34 - Year End 2010 - Sufjan Stevens Bookmark and Share


It's impossible to discount the cataclysmic influence Wire's canonized, epochal late '70s triptych of Pink Flag, 154, and Chairs Missing had on the '80s American underground indie scene. R.E.M. paid homage with a cover of "Strange" on Document, and The Feelies and Minutemen were but two of the many legions admittedly galvanized by the band. They made some good albums in the '80s, including A Bell is a Cup... Until it is Struck, but hit a woeful nadir on 1991's forced, insipid, ill-advised electronica on Manscape. Unexpectedly re-emerging in the early '00s for a tour, they proceeded to release two surprisingly superb LPs in 2003's Send and 2008's Object 47. Now, Red Barked Tree continues the momentum discovered on this unlikely coup of a second act.

Frontman Colin Newman's songwriting chops, while certainly not commensurate with his earliest days, are still damn impressive, as he knows his way around writing a catchy two- to three-minute pop song while subverting the formula with odd rhythmic patterns and inverted, inventive chord structures.

"Please Take" kicks off the record with a resolute bang, finding Newman intoning the sinister couplet cheekily, "Please take your knife out of my back/And when you do don't twist it" over the band's gorgeously sinewy trademark guitar sound and a foregrounded atmospheric swell of keyboards that approximate the divine grandeur of their classic "The 15th."

But it's the punkish clamor of "Two Minutes" that's the record's unlikely visceral jewel, finding Newman waxing nihilistic over a two-chord vamp of droning fuzz guitars, streaming together a bilious, nearly unintelligible non-sequitur referencing "leaking bloody boats four days in/possibly signaling the end of Western civilization/but I don't give a fuck/religious vomit" in an appropriately rapid fire vomit spurt. As the title suggests, it clocks in at a tidy two minutes. It proves that brevity is indeed the soul of wit, and also the soul of this seminal band who continue to astound well into their fourth decade. (www.pinkflag.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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Billy
January 5th 2011
11:46pm

Wire have got to be the most underated band ever to grace music to use a song title it’s ‘not’ so obvious at all what they do. From the brilliance of Pink Flag to this album you can listen 100 times and you’ll always find something new. Strange lyrics in places but always interesting & logical in a way that makes sense to some part of your life. Superb Splendid yet oh so Simple.