Wire – ‘Nocturnal Koreans’

By Glen Bushell

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of Wire’s now legendary debut album, ‘Pink Flag’. Still considered a post-punk masterpiece to this day, the album continues to influence countless bands. In between taking the occasional hiatus over the years Wire have made countless efforts to reinvent themselves with each release, and remained relevant while bucking every trend possible. Last year’s self-titled LP was a breath of fresh air and one of the most solid, refined Wire record’s in years.

12 months later, the London-based icons have returned with a new EP, ‘Nocturnal Koreans’. Essentially a batch of material that spilled over from the creative process of their self-titled, yet as not deemed suitable to the vibe they were trying to create at the time. It’s easy to see why, as ‘Nocturnal Koreans’ feels brighter in sound, and more direct in delivery. It is starkly different to the repetitive drone of its predecessor yet no less engaging.

Across the nine tracks on ‘Nocturnal Koreans’, Wire have opted for a far tighter recording sound and utilised all the tools at their disposal. Perhaps not the most “punk” thing a band can do, but then Wire are no longer a punk band. They are more a creative enigma, striving to achieve the best possible results. The title track has all the trademarks of Wire’s vintage sound but with a more futuristic character, and the bass-driven ‘Dead Weight’ calls to mind ‘Brotherhood’-era New Order, yet run through Wire’s own unique filter.

Euphoric keys compliment the monotone vocals of Colin Newman, as his lyrical narrative weave between political awareness to sarcastic nods to the past. “You think I’m number/Still willing to rhumba” he sings on ‘Numbered’, almost as a dig at those unwilling to look past Wire’s debut LP. Not that Newman should be worried about that. When his band still write tracks like ‘Pilgrim Trade’, which is so epic and looming, it leaves those who have mimicked Wire’s sound dead in the dirt.

Where Wire will head from here is anyone’s guess. Their unpredictability is what makes them special. When they are still releasing solid material like ‘Nocturnal Koreans’ some 40 years later, its clear that has been the aim the aim all along.

GLEN BUSHELL

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