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Wire - Mind Hive (Album Review)

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 Written by Huw Baines

Over 40 years into their career, Wire appear restless. Of course, there’s no great surprise there. With each new album the post-punk greats continue to reinvent themselves, stripping out well-worn parts in favour of others that might set the whole thing spinning like a hellish Catherine wheel.

But history has shown them to be sound judges of character, and their latest recalibration on ‘Mind Hive’ is remarkable. Bands of this vintage aren’t supposed to make music that changes how we approach their whole back catalogue—they’re supposed to rest on laurels freshly plumped up by the nostalgia market.

Here Wire play both prickly observers and, thanks to some of the most straightforwardly pop writing of their career, ironic crowd-pleasers.

Cactused, one of several songs to emerge pre-release, walks this line with aplomb, twisting warnings around a sinuous hook: “You better watch your step.” Off The Beach, a jangle-pop gem, is jaunty, even. Well, until the chorus settles in, that is: “Have you ever been swept out of reach?”

On the chugging, riff-led opener Be Like Them, Colin Newman retrofits a late ‘70s lyric by bassist Graham Lewis with an eerily prescient modern twist. “Nothing new about that,” he spits, apparently talking about Wire past, present and future all at once.

On the elegiac Shadows, though, Lewis strikes out any lingering self-referentiality with a bleak rendering of the here and now: “The men are lined up and shot into graves. The children are murdered, the women enslaved. Shadow of the future, shadow of the past.” 

Wire have been ripping up their own blueprints for so long that they have few real peers left. Few of them were a match for such a volatile creative spirit, in any case. ‘Mind Hive’ is another treasure from a band who should be celebrated far more readily than they currently are.

Wire Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue January 28 2020 - MANCHESTER Band on the Wall
Wed January 29 2020 - BIRMINGHAM Hare And Hounds
Thu January 30 2020 - GLASGOW G2
Fri January 31 2020 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat February 01 2020 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Thu May 21 2020 - LONDON Islington Assembly Hall

Click here to compare & buy Wire Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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