It might be fair to say that 2017’s Silver/Lead (QRO review) was a distinct move forward for Wire, even as it shared some aggressive synth-wave norms with the prior year’s Nocturnal Koreans (QRO review), and their postpunk attitudes have always been aggressive.
That said, Mind Hive, following in the shoes of Silver/Lead, marks even more change and growth. Silver/Lead and Mind Hive are both arguably more optimistic, and songs like “This Time” and “Diamonds in Cups” from the former share some serious lyrical parallels to “Cactused”, “Primed and Ready”, and opener “Be Like Them”.
Which brings one to the second notion brought on by Mind Hive, the strangely beat-heavy opener, “Be Like Them” and mellow closer “Humming” are both still aggressive post-punk titles and even “Cactused” is somewhat. That artsy feel which makes Wire so appealing to someone who is twenty and into politics, music, or philosophy, never goes away. The sound has moved forward on these to more classical instrumental work, but they are no question still synth and punk songs. “Primed and Ready” is just like this, a joyful and energetic punk song with lead rock guitar everywhere.
Even the tropical bliss in “Off The Beach” is this, and the meditative somber in “Unrepentant”, which is more a small electrical edict than punk song is motivated and lyrically aggressive. ”Shadows” and “Oklahoma” could be mistaken for classical instrumentals as well, but with Colin Newman on the first, and the grating demand of Graham Lewis on the second, debating the purpose of men. “Hung” takes it one step further to the ether of synth and punk, seriously more of both for the number one, synth-punk band. Lastly, the titular closer, “Humming”, is a dreaming song, which, while aggressive in spirit, is somewhat happy sounding, and has some smooth, even more advanced folk-like guitar, a page taken from Nocturnal Koreans and Silver/Lead.
Overall, not a surprise work from Wire on Mind Hive, but a welcome, aggressive, and interesting addition to the art scenes ever soft, polite, and narcissistic landscape. Hopefully, a sign of all things to come in politics and art.