‘Striking the perfect balance between sound and message’
Grace Almond
16:51 20th January 2020

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With expected political themes that seek to compliment the record, rather than over-compensate, and masterful use of synths and guitars, Wire’s last offering, Mind Hive continues the band’s ability to push the boundaries of rock, post-punk and punk.

Colin Newman’s enunciated, exaggerated vocals litter across opener ‘Be Like Them’, a brooding track criticising the capitalist dream of success measured on making money. Rather than clashing with each other, the guitars compliment and follow each other’s leads. It’s a great start to an exciting record, but leaves much to be revealed, reluctant to spoil the rest of the tracks.

‘Cactused’, the lead cut, is totally different. It’s far more upbeat, and completely danceable. Elements of Britpop and vivid sounds give this track a confident feel, and it’s clear that Wire are pushing for a modern finish. The pop elements are still visible on the third track, ‘Primed And Ready’, although this time there’s deep guitar riffs and a magical synthesiser punching it’s way through and crackling percussion reinforces its harder tones. ‘Off The Beach’ starts with a positive, happy melody, but what begins as a seemingly euphonious, joyful song, quickly reveals a deeper, hidden meaning, culminating in the lyrics, “people lying, homeless, dying”, taking the cut on a more sinister route, with Wire remaining unwaveringly critical of society.

Blissful and positive melodies continue on ‘Unrepentant’ and ‘Shadows’. Despite this, the former explores new sonic heights, with a completely distinctive vocal style; it’s as if the record itself is charting some kind of journey in how the stories in each track are being told. Juxtapose this with the latter, and you get something sonically similar but set against the backdrop of cutting, harsh lyrics. Wire have a brilliant skill in drawing you in with a seemingly harmless melody, and shocking you into the realisation of a song with a much more nuanced message than originally thought.

The explosive ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘Hung’ pick things up a little bit more, moving past the slower tracks into classic post-punk themes, this time with added synths and other effects. The record ends with the beautiful ‘Humming’. It’s a patient, tender ending to what is an unpredictable and surprising album. Post-punk is alive and kicking, and Wire only prove this further. 44 years later and they are still producing genre-defining music, striking the perfect balance between sound and message.

Mind Hive is released on 24 January 2020 via Pinkflag.

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