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  Pink Flag  
Release Date:
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  Once A. Punk  

It doesnít matter whether a band has been going for 27 weeks or 27 years as long as they can come up with the goods. On the evidence of Send, a 40-minute shot of pulsating, uncompromising indie sound, thereís no doubt that Wire can.

In the Art of Stopping, no doubt making a reference to the bandís stop-start existence, kicks things off with hypnotic drum rhythms and a grinding guitar loop. While Colin Newmanís vocals are clear, there is a sign of things to come with occasional dashes of distortion to spice things up as he croons "Trust me, believe me" with a hint of a John Lydon sneer. With a final "Itís all in the Art of Stopping", itís straight into the next track, Mr Marxís Table, the opening chords giving a nod to glories past. The breakneck pace is similar to the opening track, but in this Newman almost serenades the listener over the scratchy guitars. The doomy menace of Graham Lewisís bass first makes its presence really felt in Being Watched, alongside a spiky guitar riff which drops in and out of proceedings, as the lyrics make a seeming reference to voyeurism.

Comet is another highlight. Robert Grayís drums drives things along as apparently unstoppable as the object of the song title. A guitar break is dropped into the resulting maelstrom and everyoneís happy. The main guitar theme on The Agfers of Kodack again hints at earlier sounds, but this time there are several subtle asides -- a lovely wah-wah sound creeps in now and again -- while the insistent drum beat is less dominating. Graham Lewisís distorted vocals help create the feeling of insecurity while the line, "Fresh from the front: our favourite reporter", will remind fans of the phrase "our own correspondent", which opens Wire's first album.

Nice Streets Above features as low a bass as Iíve ever heard -- if youíve got a sub-woofer the neighbours are going to start worrying about their foundations. The distortion of the vocals has been turned up so high here that in many places they start to become part of the sound curtain, with few words being audible at all. The only answer is to keep turning that volume dial up... Surely everyone on your street needs to hear the sawing guitar and echoing electronics with which the track builds to a climax?

In Spent, the vocals come across as those of a man railing against everything thatís wrong in the world. The drums bounce along slightly less maniacally, but the guitar and electronics add little to whatís been heard so far and the bass is rather smothered. Back to form on Read and Burn, this time the bass is used to keep things together while the guitars and electronics combine to create a disturbing atmosphere as well as a wall of sound. This reaches its most intriguing point just before the two-minute mark, and is wrapped up after reverting to the earlier rhythms. Iíd be just a little happier if Read and Burn had been allocated the 4 minutes 43 seconds which Spent canít really sustain. No matter.

You Canít Leave Now is a classic. Newman sings over the astonishing bass and brittle guitar textures which are like nothing Iíve heard before. Itís that synchronicity of bass, almost single-note drum beat, guitars and gawd-know what else which will keep you returning. Half Eaten pounds along in glorious style and is my favourite track. The steely guitars chime in until the lyric "The temperatureís rising, it isnít surprising" emphasizes the sense of careening headlong to disaster in a warning of global warming without preaching. There arenít many tracks by anyone I could hit the repeat button on all day, but this is one.

A return to sanity is threatened during the opening minutes of 99.9 as the waves of sound gradually build up. What a way to go out: throbbing bass, insistent drumming and Newman screaming like a man possessed. Thereís a brief respite, but the closing minutes of this song leave you in no doubt that these guys mean business.

Of course, chances are that if you have an ear for indie guitar-driven noise, you will know of Wire and the fact that many of these tracks have already surfaced on the first two Read and Burn EPs, reviewed earlier on this site by PostLibyan. Due to a state of disorganization and a debt-clearance programme, these are missing from my collection. This, however, is probably a bonus for EvilSponge visitors new to Wire as Iíve come to this CD as itís meant to be heard -- as an album in its own right. I glanced at PostLibyanís comments a couple of weeks ago but have steadfastly kept clear since then. My strategy with almost all CDs is to spin them the first few times with very little reference to the track titles, so I donít think his remarks have had much bearing on my views.

At the time of writing Wire were offering a bonus CD, live at the Metro, Chicago, September 14, 2002, with copies of Send ordered direct from as a form of compensation (because some tracks have appeared before). This must make Send one of the bargains of 2003/04 and further reinforces the seven sponge rating. Wire may go on to surpass Send, but it will remain essential listening.

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Thanks to for Wire-approved lyrics which appeared in thie review.
Some of the tracks on Send also appeared on:
Read & Burn 01
Read & Burn 02


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