Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wire - Object 47 (2008)

3.5 ★/7.0 - 7.9

Wire's career is a microcasm. From the stripped down beginnings on Pink Flag to the avant-influenced oddball experiments on Chairs Missing and finally the full fledged leap into the unknown with 154, their first three albums provide a point-by-point rundown of how punk developed into post-punk before the latter even really had a name. Even after their hiatus, their return in the late 80's epitomized the sound that post-punk had turned into, embracing pop and dance music to create "New Wave." This is why you couldn't be surprised by their second reformation in the 00's. Post Punk had indeed entered another stage in it's timeline (the "revival" stage, popularized by bands like Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads), and it's creators, who seemingly have been documenting it's evolution ever since, had to have their say. And so, 5 years after capturing the post-punk revival movement in it's aggressively youthful abandon with Send, they've returned with the much more melodious Object 47, defining how most of the post-punk revivalists have now embraced higher production values and tamed down their approach (Bloc Party, British Sea Power and even Interpol don't sound nearly as energetic and frantic as they once were). The difference is, much like how the soft-spoken A Bell is A Cup... distinguished itself between its peers, Object 47 does it right.

The album's electrifying contradictions are the stars of the show. When you pick apart Wire's music, there's nothing but menacing tenseness and industrialism. "All Fours" rolls in on a single-chord bash, that gets exceptionally assaulted by a vicious bridge of noise and feedback. "Circumspect" is drugged up and strung out to dry, decadence and distance embodied in the form of listless guitar figures. But looking at Wire's latest offering from a distance reveals nothing but a bunch of condensed pop tunes. The tightly-wound guitars may be focused on forming walls of dissonance and repetition, but unlike their last album, the band uses these ear-piercing textures in order to pen some infectious hooks. "Perspex Icon" couldn't be more memorable, contrasting a vocal that borders on whimpering with layers of brisk and fervent post punk guitars. And tracks like "Mekon Headman" or "One of Us" have choruses that will lodge themselves in your brain for weeks. On modern electro-buzzing tracks like "Hard Currency" it becomes especially easy to guess that the producer in question is Flood (Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails), a craftsman who has been known in the past to dwell in that spot between abrasive squalor and catchiness. There are moments that Flood's mainstream flirtations are made far too apparent (the dark highway driving anthem, "Four Long Years" is a little too close to Depeche Mode for comfort and "Are You Ready" desperately needs to get away from its sterile production), but Wire is a band that has proven to hold up to change remarkably well, and with Object 47 they continue to triumphantly hold the torch up for post punk.

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