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Album Review

Wire – “Red Barked Tree” – [Pink Flag Records]

Max Level   2/8/2011   A Library, CD

35 years on, Wire (a trio now) is still rolling out their distinctive art-damaged rock. No one else has ever matched their ability to combine pop melodies with crushing noise and layered textures. The tracks here range from upbeat and catchy to dense, dark, and disturbing–typical for Wire and just the way I like it. Colin Newman’s vocals and cryptic lyrics are out front, and his guitar dominates the sound. Bassist/vocalist Graham Lewis sings a couple of songs (1,6) that are OK, but nothing special, although it’s kind of fun to hear a catchy song whose chorus goes “fuck off out of my face….” Robert (Gotobed) Grey’s uncomplicated metronomic drumming is a key ingredient too. I miss Bruce Gilbert’s noisy contributions, but am impressed by the way Newman and Lewis carry on, building up thick layers of guitars (and “various”, whatever that is) to give this music real weight. If you’re a Wire fan, you’ll probably agree this is a pretty solid release.

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