Wire remain masters of invention on Silver/Lead

Silver/LeadWhen you think of the all-time great inventors, the names Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Benjamin Franklin will no doubt come to mind. There's one name missing from that list, a group who are arguably greater than all three of these chumps put together. Their name is Wire. And now, on 15th long player Silver/Lead, their influence continues to spread wider than butter on a freshly heated crumpet.

Since the creation and destruction of post-punk with their trio of seminal albums in the 70s, the group have been hell-bent on taking their influential punk ideals and applying them to numerous different styles, with varying degrees of success. Lately, the group seem to be going through another major change. Their 'third act', a term that sounds incredibly pretentious - but it's fitting, so who cares - sees the group traveling deep into a dingy, krautrock-ridden, psychedelic hole, where everything is loud and repetitive in a way that makes your stomach pleasantly churn the night away.

This journey continues on Silver/Lead. Opener “Playing Harp for the Fishes” is almost robotic in quality, coming over all late period David Bowie slow-dancing at the gates of hell. On a boat. The destructive guitar tones reverberate in a way the comforts rather than unnerves. It’s surreal that something that sounds so 'other' can be so pleasurable, but then what else would you expect from a group unafraid to toy with their listeners?

Another oddity is just how pop they’ve become in the years following their barren 1990s period. “Short Elevated Period” and “Forever a Day” are as catchy as any of their  two-minute masterpieces on Pink Flag. While lesser bands could be accused of 'selling out' (whatever that means in this day and age), Wire tackle their tunes with an unnerving sincerity that forces recognition of their craft.

That’s not to say Silver/Lead doesn’t have its experimental points. The second side is rammed full of moments that make you stroke your chin and look into the middle distance. “Brio” sees the group tackling a much slower, almost ethereal sound. Colin Newman’s reverb-ridden vocals float all over the chugging drums, drifting around towards the point of no return. The track has a strange sense of finality about it, making you feel like the album has finished prematurely.

When the record does eventually come to a close with the acoustic psych rhythms of “Silver/Lead”, you’re left with a real urge of wanting one more song. With any other band this would be put down to bad album pacing, but with Wire, it almost feels intentional. Just another way to create unease with a record that is, on the whole, entirely accessible. Wire are inventors alright, but as Silver/Lead proves, they're bloody difficult when they want to be.

Release: 31st March 2017, Pinkflag


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