There were many points when Wire could have played it safe. Hell, they could be making bank touring the punk rock oldies circuit just performing Pink Flag. But instead of resting on the laurels of their groundbreaking ’70s work, they reformed and created two albums of danceable new wave in the ’80s, then reformed again in the ’00s releasing more aggressive, quasi-industrial music.
Then, once again, Wire took a left turn. Eschewing the pummeling attacks of their early ’00s work, Wire’s albums towards the end of the last decade were more melodic and poppy, while still retaining a sense of tension.
The new Mind Hive continues in the more tuneful direction of the last few Wire albums, with the best songs recalling the band’s ability to create memorable, catchy songs, while still experimenting with form and texture. Songs range from the delicate “Off the Beach” to the sparse and menacing “Oklahoma” to the pop nugget of “Cactused” which has a chorus bands would kill for, probably the closest to the Wire of say, Chairs Missing. Mind Hive at its best contains a marriage of wall of sound guitars and electronic touches with pop overtones. It’s a fun mental exercise to imagine the praise that would be heaped upon this album if it were a newer band of unknowns. As it is, it stands as a strong release by a band that has constantly strived to keep growing and experimenting.