Issue January 5, 2011

Red Barked Tree

Wire
PINK FLAG

Some theories of the universe hold that objects traveling away from each other eventually will stand side by side. Wire has provided a case in point, musically speaking, by mixing brainy punk rampages with tight exercises in noise-pop, and minimalism with ambient psychedelia. Colin Newman has been the figure at the front of these diverse exercises in savage artistry and cult-cool for nigh on a third of a century; here, he’s operating with Graham Lewis and Robert Grey as a trio, which worked well for 2008’s Object 47. But their newest set isn’t as consistent in quality. Opener “Please Take” (as in, take your knife out of my back) is a fetching little kiss-off, and the closing title track holds calm and tension in captivating balance. But the in-between stretch gets samey, with only a couple of good post-punk blasts (“Two Minutes”) maintaining a level of interest that’s fitting to the legacy of this classic act.