Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wire -- Object 47 (2008)

Wire -- Object 47 (Pink Flag)

Bruce Gilbert is no longer around, so Wire performs as a three piece on this effort. Didn’t they call themselves Wir the last time this happened?

Anyway, this album comes on the heels of last year’s solid Read and Burn 03 EP. On that EP, the band maintained its fascination with clipped melodic artiness, as some extended songs created a moody atmosphere.

However, on this album, it’s back to tighter song forms. Moreover, the dangerous bursts of industrial guitar found on Send, the last Wire album, are no longer present. To some extent, this is as close to a simple “pop” album as Wire has ever made. The band’s melodies have always been a part of its appeal, and here, they are the main attraction.

Perhaps this could be the start of a new genre -- sneer pop. After all, the opening track, “One Of Us”, has this inspirational lyric as a refrain: “One of us will live to rue the day we met each other.” Yes, Colin Newman was born a curmudgeon and he intends to stay that way. The song itself is sort of bouncy, with Robert Grey playing a rather jaunty beat. Anyone familiar with the melodic style of Wire will find this track instantly identifiable.

Newman drops the declamatory voice on the most appealing track, “Perspex Icon”. This is driven by stinging guitar from Newman and a great pulsing bass line from Graham Lewis. The guitars are doubled up, with fuzzy chords and a melodic lead gliding along with Newman’s singing. This song is practically 154-worthy.

Although not as hooky, “Mekon Headman” has almost as strong a melody, albeit one that sounds like it was borrowed from some older Wire tune. The song has a basic stentorian verse, singable chorus motif. On this song, the lyrics are spare and clipped, in keeping with the basic music.

One other striking track is the languid “Patient Flees”. This song is built on a lovely three note lead guitar figure. Here, the verse is melodic, and the refrain is gruff with Newman snidely intoning the rhymes: “Resurrection, insurrection, defection, disaffection/infection, imperfection, disinfection, rejection.” The more open construction of the song makes it a novel number in the band’s catalog. That being said, the guitar solo is no more than a repetitive pattern. So very Wire.

Although the album is rarely less than pleasant, it never catches fire. This even holds true on the one ‘in your face’ track, the album’s finale, “All Fours”. With Helmet’s Page Hamilton credited with providing a feedback storm, the guitar squalls seem to be deliberately muted by Newman, who produced, engineered and mixed the album. Sometimes the sense that the contents of a song are going to be explode can be very powerful. On this track, however, there is an explosion but it doesn’t fully come across.

This typifies what keeps this album from being really special. There’s just not much of a sense that Wire is really reaching for anything, instead merely content to make nice Wire songs. And who wants Wire songs to just be nice?

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