Release Date: Jan 24, 2020
Record label: Pink Flag
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
At this stage of the game, few would blame Wire if they finally began trading off past glories. Their epochal early albums, Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 copper-fastened their reputation as one of post-punk's definitive acts and 2018's deluxe reissues of said holy trinity would - for most bands - have kick-started a lucrative last hurrah involving an overblown farewell tour and spin-off concert film. As we've long since been aware, though, Wire are not "most" bands. Their celebrated debut, Pink Flag, will always be hailed as one of punk's most influential titles, but it was merely a jumping-off point for the enigmatic London quartet who have constantly placed the emphasis on where they're heading next.
Not many bands can legitimately claim to have invented a genre, but back in the heady days of 1976 Wire managed to do just that, pioneering the post-punk sound even before punk had really started to get going. Since their reformation in 1999 the group have continued their quest for the new, taking a deep dive into the dirge. Gone are the angular guitars of old, replaced with grinding psychedelia that drags the listener on a journey through music's past and present.
'No Love Lost' sums up the band politics in Wire so accurately, you would be forgiven for thinking it's their song. "It can be brutal. I felt crushed at times", Colin Newman wrote in 2006. "We have been playing power-games for 30 years. Wire could be an even better band, if not for that." Better ….
T he career of Wire, frontman Colin Newman once proudly announced, is "a one-way trip". It's not an idle boast. On stage today, you might get one song from their "classic" 70s albums or their first reunion in the 80s, but it's best not to book a ticket under that assumption: whole tours have gone by where Wire barely acknowledged they had a past at all.
What makes Wire tick? We listeners have had over 40 years and umpteen albums and solo projects to work that one out. But with Mind Hive, the band continue to evolve, surprise and quietly inspire. Punk's last Beats, Wire often seem to enjoy sticking to their furrow and preaching their sermons from it. But old "Punk Floyd" jibes aside, their modus operandi is not cast in aspic or reverently mounted on the walls of a white cube like the Pistols or Buzzcocks.