These days, the most ‘influential’ of Wire’s albums (the three post-punk classics they mostly recording during actual punk) is probably 154, the one where they finally escaped the new wave and became experimental loss-leaders for a sobbing EMI Records. Since then, in their various incarnations and re-formations, Wire have followed many paths.
With Change Becomes Us, the third in their latest trilogy of albums – of Object 47, Red Barked Tree and this one – they return to eat themselves, deliberately, by using the bare bones of old songs that had been improvised live 35 years ago and then abandoned. A similar idea in worse hands could have been called No Wait, Come Back, but Change has turned out to be fresh as a daisy.
It doesn’t sound creepy, like 154’s terrifying The Other Window, or hard-to-whistle to like their great 15-minute Peel session classic Crazy About Love. Instead it’s melodic (songs like Re-Invent Your Second Wheel and Love Bends are as tuneful as Outdoor Miner or Map Ref. 41 Degrees N 93 Degrees W) and inventive (& Much Besides is gorgeous like Eno used to be). This is the best Wire album of this century.