Whatever post-punk legends Wire have been putting in their tea, lately, pass it over here, please. Their seventeenth studio album, Mind Hive, remains as fresh and forward looking as ever, and there isn’t a duff track at all to be found anywhere on it. It’s one of the major releases of the year.
Colin Newman and co. have always been a mass of contradictions, making beautiful and tender songs as well as grimy ones: for every I Am The Fly, or Map Reference 41 Degrees N 93 Degrees W there’s been an Outdoor Miner, or Kidney Bingos.
So it is with Mind Hive. Much more than just a smart-ass pun title, it’s as oppositional as ever, and with a call for collective responsibility, but also stuffed with gorgeous material. It’s rage and beauty all the way.
Opening track Be Like Them is an anti-government chant, an antidote to complacency with staccato stabbing percussion, and guitars that throb like a particularly vicious migraine. The lyrics chide at the plus ça change situation we UK residents are in, of facing “nothing new… a little of this, not enough of that”.
Shadows has layered, treated vocals and feels like a prayer for better days ahead; this is countered by Hung, all siren synths and glowering cloudy mood swings.
But there are plenty of unexpected little curve balls, too. Unrepentant is a hypnotic and psychedelic soundscape, while Humming thrums with ambient waves.
And the ridiculously infectious Cactused is about as poppy as Wire get these days, reminiscent of Brian Eno in his Here Come The Warm Jets era. All to the good.
Meanwhile, Primed and Ready‘s electronic pulse queries “facing extinction” and “reinventing the wheel”, as bold a statement of intent as there’s likely to be as the hangover of 2019 wears off and we emerge, blinking, into the bright strip lights of 2020. It’s utterly timeless music and among the best they’ve ever made.
Wire are front and centre, leading the charge: less tinfoil hats and paranoia, more a packed lunch, torches and explosives under their belts. We are in safe hands then… Who’s with ’em?