Wire - Mind Hive LP
Wire exhibit little inclination to look back rather they remain resolutely focused on producing music which is smart, vital and defiantly modern. Mind Hive is the group's first newly recorded material since 2017's Silver/Lead. That album garnered rave reviews and career best sales. Yet, if Silver/Lead set the bar pretty high, Mind Hive seems to have no problem vaulting over it.
"Be Like Them" is a super angular composition, utilizing a recently rediscovered Wire lyric from 1977. Colin Newman and Matthew Simms' guitars constantly mesh and diverge, whilst the rhythm section ensures the song prowls forward with an unstoppable menace. "Cactused" is the first of Mind Hive's pop moments. The vocal is wide eyed and wired, with effects heavy guitar work creating a bright web of noise, with the song's stop/start moments providing a series of precise energy bursts. "Primed And Ready" rides out on a tightly pulsing synth sequence punctuated by icy slivers of guitar.
This is Wire at their most compressed yet propulsive. "Off The Beach" is another prime pop song With its breezy, optimistic melody, and blend of electric and acoustic guitars, the song initially sees the group seemingly celebrating the joys of everyday life but things are destined to turn a shade stranger. "Unrepentant" explores the kind of bucolic soundscape early Pink Floyd would have been proud to call their own. Boasting one of the album's finest texts, the song radiates out into a shimmering sonic heat haze. "Shadows" pulls the classic Wire trick of placing a dark and cruel lyric in a musical setting of tender beauty. "Never" has the recounting of atrocity been so seductively pitched. "Oklahoma" is the muscular and dramatic joker in the pack. Lewis' dark vocal swims through a rich compound of guitar textures and synth tones, building into a masterclass of tension and release. "Hung" is the album's centrepiece. This 8 minute excursion matches a brief but evocative lyric with a dense, mesmeric guitar grind. Simms and Newman's keyboards add a plaintive note, as the song moves through a series of sections, each with its own distinct atmosphere. "Humming" is a beatless autumnal drift fashioned from delicate keyboard textures and rich soaring guitar tones. Newman delivers a state of the world lyric with a touching sense of innocence, whilst the piece ends with Lewis' husky baritone listing locations and their difficult associations.
An elegiac end to a supremely confident album Mind Hive arrives at a time when Wire are being cited as an influence by yet another generation of bands. A career spanning feature documentary called People in a Film is due for release late 2020. Quite how a group that has been operating for such a long period is still able to produce such exciting and essential work is difficult to understand. And yet here we are.