Wire

Object 47

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Although a playful, self-referential title marks the 47th entry in Wire's discography, the band definitely isn't looking back. Some familiar motifs inevitably resurface, but there's no such thing as a predictable Wire album: that's especially true of this, their first without guitarist Bruce Gilbert. Overall, Object 47 is the antithesis of Send, its immediate predecessor. Send was wonderfully claustrophobic and compressed, painted mostly in aggressive, industrial-sized brush strokes eschewing nuance and variation and emphasizing surface over depth; Object 47 trades harsh monochrome for expansive wide-screen color and a pronounced melodic sensibility. Across these nine tracks, diverse new textures and dimensions emerge and, despite being typically elliptical, the words communicate a broader emotional range than Send displayed, with its tendency towards terse phrase-clusters. From the outset, Wire is a band reborn and reenergized. The anthemic "One of Us" sets the agenda, propelled by Graham Lewis and Robert Grey's relentless rhythms. Its lyrics stand in tonal contrast to the music (a trademark Wire tactic): "one of us will live to rue the day we met each other" warns Colin Newman, against the grain of the singalong bounce. Regardless of their legendary artistic contrariness, Wire always deliver catchy songs and, in addition to the opener, Object 47 boasts several. On "Perspex Icon," the combination of stop-start buzzsaw guitar rhythms with Newman's bright, tuneful vocal proves highly infectious. Equally memorable are Lewis' turns at the mic -- the funky "Are You Ready?" and "Mekon Headman," a denser, more insistent number accentuating the minimalist cymbal detail Grey minted on Pink Flag. Object 47 highlights Wire's pop credentials, but the band hasn't lost its edge. Tempo changes punctuate Massive Attack-style rolling dread on the hefty "Hard Currency"; by contrast, "All Fours" hammers out rigid, astringent grooves as guest guitarist Page Hamilton plugs in with a feedback squall that adds extra menace to the album's apocalyptic coda.

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