It’s been 40 years since Wire emerged as one of the most enigmatic bands of the punk era. Only their first album, Pink Flag really qualifies as punk in sound, with short, sharp, spiky songs like “1,2, X U”. By their third album, 154, the band had evolved into a sonically rich rock band. With a popular breakthrough in sight, they put out a live album called Document/Eyewitness which featured all new material and a sound that a friend at the time called, “the sound of a barge rusting,” and promptly broke up.
Wire has been an on and off concern since the mid-’80s. The line up has shifted a bit over the years and they have changed things up periodically to keep things interesting. The current band features original members Colin Newman (vocals and guitar), Graham Lewis (bass and vocals), Robert Grey (drums) along with guitarist Mathew Simms. Silver/Lead finds the band in a mostly meditative mid-tempo state. Colin’s songs tend to be a bit peppier and more direct. Grahams songs are more atmospheric and enigmatic. In other words, they sound like Wire.
Silver/Lead (like all Wire albums really) takes repeated plays to reveal its charms. Colin’s churning “Sort Elevated Period” is pretty hooky on first listen, but I still have no idea what he’s singing about. I literal meaning is not very important though. Graham’s song, “Brio”, wraps you up in a foggy, contemplative mood you can just sink into. I think it’s a meditation on mortality. Take some time to let the music work on you. It’s worth it.