Wire’s new album is atmospheric. Autumnal. Claustrophobic. Menacing even. It’s like the nights drawing in. For me, it’s very much a brutal soundtrack to the period we’re currently living through. Droning guitars and dark-ambient synths (developing from their 2016 album, Nocturnal Koreans and 2017’s Silver/Lead). Newman and Lewis sing about Russian oligarchs, populism, state-sanctioned mass-killing, the hopelessness of conformity, those left washed up on the margins.
Wire have always drawn heavily on a cut-up, surrealistic approach to lyrics, often mixing the personal and societal. According to bassist/singer Graham Lewis about the song Primed & Ready, “The lyric/text for this song could be read as a series of questions, set in 2017,.. Who could have known the answers would be, in no particular order … Liverpool FC, me, Boris the Spider, 67, Lieutenant Colonel.”
The opening track, Be Like Them, seems to be a commentary on the way media manipulates: “They play it all for you / They explain it all to you… / Demanding you too / Be like them”. It’s a clear warning about the hive mind culture that seems all-too-readily to threaten.
So far, I like the entire album. Tracks I particularly like are: Off the Beach, Be Like Them, Cactused, Primed and Ready.