Seminal punk to post-punk act Wire delivers with only their second full-length in over fifteen years, Object 47.Forged in Spirit of ’77 London punk scene, Wire has made a long journey, as they shifted into electronica and synthesizers in the eighties, before taking much of the nineties off to pursue other projects. However, their influence continued to be felt in genre-defining acts ranging from the hardcore punk of Minor Threat to shoegaze wonder of My Bloody Valentine (R.E.M. famously covered Wire’s “Strange”, and there was even a plagiarism case against Britpop flash-in-the-pan Elastica…). They band returned in 2002 with Read & Burn: Vol. 1 EP, followed by a few more Volumes and 2003’s Send LP, and now Object 47 (the forty-seventh object in Wire’s thirty-plus-year discography), an interesting though a bit uneven piece of art-punk.
Wire did, however, suffer a departure, as charter guitarist Bruce Gilbert left before the making of Object 47 (only the second change ever in the band’s line-up – and the first, the leaving of drummer Robert Grey, wherein the now-three-piece changed their name to ‘Wir’, eventually saw Grey & the ‘-e’ return). Object 47 may not be as massively art-punk as other Wire ‘objects’ (at nine tracks, it’s certainly shorter than the thirteen-plus pieces they’ve delivered on LPs before, or the twenty-one on debut Pink Flag), but it still shows a wide variety.
Perhaps too wide. Leadoff track and first single “One Of Us” is incredible driving, pressing, anthem with strong hooks – but it’s also the best track on the record (not the first album to suffer from such a relatively common fate). The shift to the slow, ominous “Circumspect” is rather severe, and the latter piece is hurt a bit by it. The slower tracks like “Circumspect”, the more ambitious “Mekon Headman”, and darker “Four Long Years” tend to not be as outright winning as faster pieces like “One of Us” or the high & strong procession “Perspex Icon”.
There are some interesting echo/reverb effects laid over the singer/guitarist Colin Newman’s voice throughout Object 47, and those really come to the fore on the slower pieces, especially “Patient Flees”; too slow on its first listen, it gets better and better, the more one spins. The same can be said to even greater effect of the preceding “Hard Currency”, whose more electronic beats are jarring at first, but play finer the more you hear them. However, the record ends on a bit of a down note, as the penultimate political piece “Are You Ready?” is a bit heavy-handed (politics is done better on “Mekon”), while the aggressive Brit-punk grind of finisher “All Fours” is perhaps too angry for the album.
For such a venerable group, which has traversed some fairly far-off domains, it’s great that Object 47 has such accessible parts. And yet, there are still other parts that demand and reward further listen. While the mix between the two is a little sudden, Wire delivers both.
MP3 Stream: “One Of Us”