Over the last couple of years, I confess that I’ve developed something of an obsession with Wire. Which is odd given that they’ve been around for most of the last 35 years and I could have easily have hitched a lift at any point during that time.
Yet my timing was always wrong. Principally in following up the pop singles of the late 80s I chose not the LPs they originated from but the follow-up ‘Manscape’, perhaps not the best regarded LP in the Wire canon.
A spec purchase of ‘Red Barked Tree’ 2 years ago at last saw me find my way into Wire properly and ever since I’ve been filling in most of the gaps in my Wire education.
The arrival of the new Wire LP ‘Change Becomes Us’ then is a cause of celebration, not least because their recording schedule latterly didn’t tend to suggest a new record was due this year. And although ‘Change Becomes Us’ is an all new Wire album, its roots actually lie in the latter days of Wire Mark 1.
All the songs are apparently based (to some extent) on songs written after third LP ‘154’ but never recorded. It’s not that unusual for bands to go back and revive/recast earlier material for inspiration but I can’t remember anyone doing a whole LP based on old material.
To be fair, the songs range from the fully formed in 1979-80 (‘Doubles and Trebles’ previously known as ‘Ally In Exile’) to those with tenuous links to the era. In truth it’s a concept that could potentially be a millstone – an album based on unreleased cast-offs doesn’t sound THAT appealing.
But that label would be entirely misplaced. Forget its origins – ‘Change Becomes Us’ delivers everything I could have hoped for. It’s simply the new Wire LP and it’s bloody good.
There are 2 initial impressions that hit me on listening to the album. First, it’s one of the most varied LPs that they’ve released and second that it’s actually stronger than RBT, a record I love.
Having listened to RBT again yesterday, I’m actually not 100% sure that that second initial impression is actually correct (RBT can also be safely categorised as ‘bloody good’) but it’s certainly at least as good.
I’ll stand by the first observation though. The material ranges from the punky ‘Stealth of a Stork’ through to the shimmering pop of ‘Reinvent Your Second Wheel’. In between there’s the crunching stadium power chords of ‘Adore Your Island’, the brooding ‘Time Lock Fog’ and the thoughtful acoustic strumming of the largely instrumental ‘& Much Besides’.
Change it seems continues to become Wire. Although CBU is recognisably Wire once again they’ve managed to move forward and claim new ground.
Best LP of the year so far.