Minus undue pomp, the immensely influential UK outfit Wire has unveiled its latest effort. A key player in the uprising of 1977 and just as important to subsequent progressions of post-punk, through a pair of hiatuses, a founding member’s departure and a consistently evolving sound they’ve grown into one of contemporary music’s great units. Wire doesn’t reach the heights of the group’s finest work, but it easily vindicates their continued existence, and it’s out now on LP/CD/digital via Pinkflag.
The style of music known as Rock, a form derived from the crosspollination of R&B and C&W and distilled by bands reliably featuring vocals and guitar but crucially dependent upon a human rhythmic engine, has proven versatile and resilient since it surfaced in the mid-section of last century. But if it’s true that Rock will never die, its undiluted essence has basically nothing to do with longevity.
Certainly, the Rock ideal can be located by focusing on the ins and outs/ups and downs of a pertinent career, but it can also be found through absorbing one album, or even better, just a 45 RPM single. Indeed, the embodiment of Rock can be uncovered in a solitary song and pinpointed further in succinct moments; the scream at the beginning of the Stooges’ “T.V. Eye,” the slashing progression along the guitar neck in the middle of The Jam’s “In the City,” and the extra thrust in the drumming at the end of The Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold your Hand.”
And yet a measurement frequently employed to make the case for truly exceptional rock acts is an ability to persevere over time, especially in instances where influence endures over sales figures; so it is with Wire, though the group’s lifespan consists of distinct eras, each with its proponents. Most lauded is the ’77-’80 run, a period offering three consecutive studio masterpieces. However, a considerable number of younger listens have surely been struck by the unusually productive return from their ‘90s layoff.