WIRE – Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)

Ever the anarchists, for their latest album Wire have revisited some of their early work, most notably songs from 1981’s ‘Document And Eyewitness’ and 1996’s ‘Turns And Strokes’, many of which were only ever recorded live and never made it onto their studio albums. These have been reworked, and in some cases reimagined, for a modern audience, and considering the brilliance of the band’s early work I welcome the opportunity to hear these songs in cleaned up versions. Oddly enough, despite being a massive Wire fan, I don’t have either ‘D&E’ (a notoriously difficult listen) or ‘Turns And Strokes’, so to me this is all new stuff, and as such it sounds great. ‘Doubles And Trebles’ starts off just as you would expect a track from Wire to sound – all jagged guitar, solid backbeat, and Colin Newman’s distinctive vocals. It’s a great start to the album, and can manage to sound like something from their classic 1977-1979 period while at the same time following on effortlessly from 2010’s ‘Red Barked Tree’. ‘Adore Your Island’ is a blending together of their post-punk ‘154’ sound with a chorus that is straight from ‘Pink Flag’, while ‘Stealth Of A Stork’ belongs firmly in the ‘Chairs Missing’/’Pink Flag’ era, with it’s manic pace and power-punk spirit. ‘B/W Silence’ is in complete contrast, with its dreamy melody and laid-back feel, it locks into a groove which ebbs and flows, gently fading away to nothingness. ‘Magic Bullet’ brings to minds mid-80’s Wire, around the time of ‘A Bell Is A Cup…’, with the maturity that the band brought to their first come-back. ‘Love Bends’ has taken the original shouty punk rant and toned it down considerably into something approaching a pop song, and ‘As We Go’ is another song that harks back to albums like ‘The Ideal Copy’, with its insistent groove and spikey guitars. The lyrics to ‘& Much Besides’ are the most important part of this song, and even though they were written thirty-odd years ago, the call for Britain to become the cultural institution it deserves still stand today. ‘Attractive Space’ is a revisiting of the demo for ‘Underwater Experiences’, which was done for the ‘Chairs Missing’ album, and to be honest if this version had appeared on that album it would have fitted in perfectly. All of the tracks have been renamed for this album, so you have to be something of a detective to work out what the original songs were before their reworking, but as I am treating this as a brand new Wire album I doubt very much that I will want to search out and hear the originals, in their generally inferior sound quality. This is another superb piece of work from a band who released their first album 35 years ago, and of all the groups who have reformed over the past few years, I can’t think of another which is producing new work of this quality.

Doubles & Trebles