Wire: Nocturnal Koreans

Wire: Nocturnal KoreansAlbum review by Ian Gittins | Rating: ★★★★☆

22/04/2016

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In so many ways, it makes absolute sense that Wire's 15th studio album is composed of outtakes and leftovers from their 14th.

Why so? Because 40 – yes, 40 – years into their existence, Wire remain a band utterly allergic to any notion of waste or excess. Perennial post-punks, their austere, clipped music has no truck with the spare or superfluous: it is of, and about, only itself.

It's easy to depict their slashed, tessellated micro-riffs and arch arabesques as overly cerebral, and Wire's meticulous music is certainly profoundly thought-through, yet there are also longing and poignancy in their brisk scour. The

Typical is the bass-driven scrub of Internal Exile, which evokes Joy Division with their brooding angst replaced by algorithmic precision and forensic discipline. Like their contemporaries and ideological peers, The Fall, Wire songs manifest an eccentric, contrary intensity; contain their own skew-whiff internal logic.intellectual rigour is not at the expense of an odd, halting warmth.

Zayn: Mind Of Mine

Colin Newman's voice remains a weak, teasing, facetious tool, piping clever-clever absurdist quasi-nonsense. On the jittery Forward Position he is a reproachful presence, reprimanding a hapless wrong-doer in decidedly sinister style: "I am black box, I remember/Every promise that you broke."

Each song is a honed, baleful exercise in minimalist and yet whimsical efficiency. All but one weigh in around the three-minute mark: what pop purists! Numbered has the buzzing, oblique intensity of their Elastica-inspiring old track I Am The Fly, and Newman's nasal whine of "Believing in something, believing in nothing" is perfect: Wire are the most agnostic of bands.

As ever, sentiment is anathema to them, as is bombast: Still's sarcasm-drenched "Inside, outside, above and beyond" could be a barbed rebuke to the faux-profound gnomic gibberish of so many bands. Without decent tunes, it could be forbiddingly arid. Luckily, Wire are masters of melody.

Every Wire album features one track sung by bassist Graham Lewis, and the closing Fishes Bones finds him booming, "The back door's open! Are you needing a boost?" like Mark E Smith at his most sublimely wanton. Wire are as they were, as they forever will be, and all the better for it.

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