Laptop R&B, PoundPubs, Google Plus, Thrinder – it’s easy to get crushed under the thundering wheels of the internet age. So Wire’s Colin Newman turns back from reworking unfinished songs from 1981’s live album Document And Eyewitness into 2013’s impressive Change Becomes Us and finds everything a modernist blur.
‘Site traffic envy/I’m YouTubing home,’ he whispers over a paranoid drone of synth and acoustic on Blogging, an internet-era rewriting of the Christ myth that seems to scuttle in fear from the stickiness of the web. High and In Manchester ooze dank images of a fibre-optic Britain hooked on happy hours.
Wire’s self-titled 14th album is a catalogue of the 21st-century cyber-malaise, taut with a sedated post-rock tension and ennui but still built on the proud melodic bedrock of new wave, New Order and Beatledelia. The result is a direct, delicious assortment from an art-punk band prone to offering us trays of Crunchy Frogs.
Newman’s chilled, metallic vocals grace propulsive drones with the noir-pop nuances of Depeche Mode (Shifting), The Strokes (Joust & Jostle), The Smiths (Octopus) and Dear Prudence (the enthralling Burning Bridges). Only the seven-minute-plus indulgences Sleep-Walking and Harpooned veer into stretches of volcanic art noise, and then with a ferocious elegance.
While their descendants scramble to wring every unheard skronk, gurgle and electro-gibbon out of their laptops with tunes tossed on as an afterthought, Wire face this age of confusion as a monument to catchy, coherent invention./o:p