Friday, 3 May 2013

Album review: WIRE - Change Becomes Us

Highlights: Doubles & Trebles, Keep Exhaling, Magic Bullet, Love Bends

Change Becomes Us is that same witty, artsy post punk Wire have been doing since their classic 1977 debut. It’s just that it has become a lot more artsy and atmospheric over the years, the songs have become longer, the songwriting a little less sharp and, try as you might, you won’t find an “Outdoor Miner” amid these 13 potent, clever, tasteful additions to their extensive catalogue.  

Not that it’s the end of the world, of course: the band still sounds inventive and intriguing, and if there’s one sensible reference point I can make here, it would be Brian Eno’s non-ambient, mid-70’s stuff. Colin Newman even sounds (it’s not just me, right?) a bit like a younger Eno here.

“Doubles & Trebles” is a brilliant opener, cold and assertive piece of smart post-punk, made even more effective by Newman’s almost robotic vocal delivery. There are softer, more melodic tracks like “Keep Exhaling”, and then there’s stuff like the edgy “Adore Your Island” which alternates mellower parts with noisy, non-threatening hardcore outbursts. You get things in that vein throughout most of Change Becomes Us (a fairly long album, I should note), and apart from occasional washed-out, uneventful moments, it’s certainly an exciting listen.

My point being: they are still good songwriters. Maturity is understandable. Not a remarkable album by any means, but there’s just so much confidence and brain in these songs that I know I'll be coming back to it again and again. They know exactly what they’re doing, and it shows.


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