Silver / Lead by Wire

Release date: March 31, 2017
Label: Pinkflag

Wire is celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band, and are about to release their 15th studio album Silver/Lead. The album is highly melodic (read: catchy as hell) and showcases the band at the top of their game. 

Call it post punk with a psych edge, and the biting snarl of punk is never far from the surface. Guitarists Colin Newman and Matt Simms throw down both edgy and dreamy riffs, while bassist Graham Lewis continues to excel as a lyricist. Drummer Robert Grey (aka Gotobed) is an understated but thoroughly capable drummer. And the way they intermingle their ultimately cohesive sound is also an exercise in how to create an expansive head space. Newman’s production also has a lot to do with how great this release sounds, every moment given consideration.

‘Playing Harp For the Fishes’ is both jagged and deeply interesting, with buzzing sonics and Lewis’s deeply dramatic vocals. Its slow but majestic pace works perfectly in the framework of this tune. ‘Short Elevated Period’ is fast paced and furious, standing proudly next to their early work, only with better production and mastery of their craft. Newman’s lighter voice skates over the top of this great, thrashing punk pop tune. ‘Diamonds in Cups’ resumes a slower tack, and slowly unveils the beauty of the main melody. Just terrific! ‘Forever and a Day’ is another superb song with an ultra cool riff! Lewis’s voice is the perfect complement to the metronomic beat. This is a song to bob along slowly with and sing along to. ‘An Alibi’ is a gentle, slightly spacey tune with Newman’s welcome croon, while ‘Sonic Lens’ employs acoustic guitar and pretty instrumental layers. At one point, it almost sounds like horns in the mix, though those could easily be programmed in.

‘This Time’ borrows the cadence from ‘Forever and a Day’ and Lewis’s voice lets a bit of light in. ‘Brio’ dives into psych with Colin’s echoing vocals, widescreen pop, and beautiful instrumental passages. It could easily fit onto a movie soundtrack, scored by a band who knows how to sculpt gorgeous sonic textures. ‘Sleep on the Wing’ starts off as sleepy, pastoral psychedelia and is energized by some lovely guitar work and trippy vocals. The title track is saved for last, and employs a slow but carefully constructed underpinning, wrapped around an almost sprightly melody with trumpet placed in toward the end. It caps off another excellent outing from this veteran post punk band. Highly recommended!

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