Courtesy of the artist
Nastiness and cynicism often take precedence over melody in Colin Newman's singing, but not in Wire's "Smash."
Nastiness and cynicism often take precedence over melody in Colin Newman's singing, but not in Wire's "Smash." Courtesy of the artist
CD: Red Barked Tree
Too often, veteran musicians shrink away or stand down when the next generation of bands starts releasing albums. But after 35 years, the legendary London group Wire still writes new material with force and vitality. Red Barked Tree marks a new chapter in Wire's longstanding catalog of simplicity and concision.
With its robotically steady tempo, "Smash" is a study in musical cruise control, resisting any urges to go faster or slower as layered guitars blare at high volume, nearly delving into shoegaze territory. Wire has toyed with these sounds in the past, but what's different this time around is the personality: Vocalist Colin Newman has toned down his eccentric vocals in favor of something sweeter. Nastiness and cynicism often take precedence over melody in his singing, but not this time. For all the harsh guitars hanging in the air, Newman's words glide onto the hook like apple butter, sweet and smooth.