On The Turntable: Wire's First Three Albums March 28 2018
Between 1977 and 1979, Wire made three astounding albums with all appropriate economy and precision, delivering maximal effect via minimal structure. Not a single superfluous note. Impossible to forget.
Pink Flag remains punk's first and most potent autocritique. 21 songs in 35 minutes. A surly, brutalist piss-take, airless and above all abstemious. No guitar wankery, no sloganeering, no quarter. The lyrics, wayward and gnomic, are quotidian language rendered deeply alien, compressed and explosively suggestive.
Confronted with the opaque estrangements of Chairs Missing, a listener might be forgiven for thinking that this is stuff of a different lineage altogether. Wire's sophomore LP takes the monochrome negations of their debut and turns them inside out. In-studio experiments and controlled doses of synthesizer introduce ambience, dissonance and texture into the band's kaleidoscopic sound.
The menacing pointillism of 154 yields some of Wire's most exquisitely harrowing moments of détourned melodic beauty. Oblique freeze-frame explorations of psychology and gesture, position and perception. Songs against themselves. Such an enduringly influential and preternaturally inventive hat trick has hardly been matched, let alone bested, in the years since.
Now Wire's first three records return as timely redeployments, poised as ever to confound expectations and puncture the pompousness of warmed-over rock posturing. Music that is forever ahead of any moment. If these records were to appear tomorrow, for the very first time, Wire would still upend everything we thought we knew. Decades on, we listen more closely than ever before.