Review: Wire – Change Becomes Us
Published on March 31st, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Not many would quibble with Wire if the title Change Becomes Us is a self-assessment – after all, change has always been so becoming of them. Following on from the relatively poppy pair of 2008’s Object 47 and 2010’s Red Barked Tree, this new ‘un was hewn out of ideas dating back to the late ’70s, which probably explains how it manages to strike such a satisfying balance between their more recent melodic sophistication and the sludgy, lyrical punk they’ve traditionally been more known for.
Formidable opener “Doubles and Trebles” displays the kind of creeping, commanding rockingness that conceivably inspired Fugazi. Meaty, chorus-y power chords trade blows with more cosmically minded strokes of acoustic guitar across the course of the album, this one hinting at as much with a brilliantly effective breakdown of dissonant jangling and an alien-sounding vocal effects announcing “Resistence is futile / They kill on arrival”.
“Keep Exhaling” then flaunts the urgent, angular riffs and powerhouse drumming that have exerted such a ‘post-punk’ influence over the years, not to mention the ingenious songwriting touches that separate Wire from the lion’s share of it. It’s all over in under two minutes, teeing up “Adore Your Island” to cast forth swirling synths that bubble upwards from within. It’s tremendous stuff is what it is.
“Re-Invent Your Second Wheel” introduces the air of shimmering psychedelic wonder that goes on to flavour “B/W Silence” and “Much Besides”, its acronym-filled chorus reminding of “Zoloft” by the great Ween. The crunchy cosmic disco of “Eels Sang” might just be the pick of the bunch, illustrating Wire’s influence on Blur as its thrillingly wonky guitar rises disorientingly up through the keys.
Elsewhere, “Stealth of a Stork” sounds closest to the Wire of landmark 1977 debut Pink Flag, “Time Lock Fog” succeeds with an ominously semi-whispered vocal telling of “violent tremors and aftershocks” and “Love Bends” pounds with sheer glee, all before “Attractive Space” brings the curtain down on a fine set by working itself into a right old stomp.
As unfair as it may be to view an album in terms of it being a latter-day effort, this perspective casts Change Becomes Us only in a good light: there are parallels to be drawn with the Ween of Quebec, The Stranglers of last year’s Giants and even David Bowie’s new album. Furthermore, if this were an album back in time, it could well have lain the blueprint for the also great Half Man Half Biscuit, which is only to be commended.
Oh, and are we hearing “protecting your balls with ornaments” in “As We Go”? Anyway, onto the quailing…
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Change Becomes Us is out now on Pink Flag. For more information, please click here to visit the official Wire website.