Wire’s new album comes with keyboard and much anticipation, mostly over sub-par, middle of the road (for Wire), records and good touring. No new Wire has been quite so expected as the last release, an effort which is deeply experimental if slightly over-simplified and loop based, Wire (QRO review); and here is the new Nocturnal Koreans, which is so quality work that it easily heralds some copy-cat by other bands.
The songs build much like The A List or Red Barked Tree (QRO review), one a compilation of sorts, the other a relatively acclaimed middle-of-the-road in age and -quality album. The first two songs are perfect in this sense. While “Blessed State” or “On Returning” may have had hints of this style, “Internal Exile” is the type of piece that shows the degree of composition not achieved till numbers like “Smash”, “Adapt”, “A Public Place”, “Free Falling Divisions”, or “Over Theirs”. “Dead Weight’” expertly continues the theme of revealing an era of total punk is still in them and they will probe the depths of human arrogance partially through the aggressive drums of these songs, and partially just in the spirit of the lyrics.
Of course, there are many layers to Colin Newman’s lyrics, but that does certainly take some political savvy not necessary to enjoy their amazingly styled ‘70s and post-punk rock. “Numbered” is also amazing, much like ”Merchandise” by Fugazi, but they may not appreciate the comparison, the point made is the same about career versus dreamer.
“Pilgrim’s Trade”, “Forward Position”, and “Fishes Bones” kind of disappointingly if pointedly fade sadly into ether; “Do You Think You Are Able To Fade Away” coincidently, is a line taken from an earlier song. If only for the pointedness these songs are stipend of earlier work and still interesting, combining the stylings of earlier ‘80s wistful snaring loops like the oddity “Drill” or “Red Barked Trees” with the clever lyrics of pattern recognition by spoken word description in “Fishes Bones” or describing their sadness, in the lyrics of “Forward Position”, a chess board. “Pilgrim’s Trade” is just a bit jauntier, but just a bit, and the lyrics are equally good. Overall, this is their most solid released since the ‘80s synth-wave stylings of The A List and Manscape. A perfect combination of art-pop and post-punk.