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Friday, Aug. 29, 2008

LISTENING POST

CD REVIEW

Wire "Object 47"


U.K. postpunk band Wire always seemed to view their contemporaries in the 1970s music scene with an air of disdain, and while all around we are now treated to the unedifying spectacle of old heroes re-forming and cashing in on their legacies, Wire have been quietly following their own path all along, looking back only to expose their past to fresh interpretations. With 2003's "Send," Wire seemed to revisit, then mess with, the thrashy assault of their 1977 debut "Pink Flag"; however, "Object 47" has more in common with the band's 1980s work on Mute Records, with an emphasis on slower, more melodic songs and a wider instrumental palette.

The lyrics on "Object 47" are veiled and indistinct as always, and most tracks are imbued with images of concealed strategies and hidden agendas that heighten the sense of unease that the subtly twisted musical arrangements create. It's an eclectic album, with "Mekon Headman" and "Patient Flees" juxtaposing disarmingly pretty melodies with a darker backdrop. Meanwhile, "Hard Currency" reveals a familiarity with electronic and industrial music, and revels in a single-chord drone.

Nevertheless, for all their experimentation, Wire have always had a knack for great pop tunes, even if they always seem to be delivered with the sense that the band has done it just to show how easy it was for them. "One of Us" is the most commercial-sounding song Wire have written since "Ahead." Where in the past Wire have preferred to take a flamethrower to convention, "Object 47" takes a path of more insidious and subtle manipulation.


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