With the 1990 departure of Robert Gotobed (now Robert Grey), Wire ceased to exist, becoming the trio WIR. A decade later, however, the unpredictable foursome reunited for a series of concerts. Playing together again, the bandmembers realized Wire still had something to say. Tracks from 1999 rehearsals appeared on The Third Day, but the band began recording completely new material in late 2001. That first studio collaboration since Manscape resulted in Read & Burn 01. It's appropriate that this release from British punk's most innovative band should coincide with punk's Silver Jubilee. But although Read & Burn 01 evokes the taut and abrasive, pared-down rush of Pink Flag -- before the more experimental departures of Chairs Missing and 154 -- this isn't empty nostalgia. On the vintage foundation of simple, minimal patterns repeated to often-hypnotic effect, Wire builds a beefed-up, contemporary wall of sound. In keeping with the title, this material is urgent and intense, feelings conveyed by the music's sheer pace. The three-chord wonder "In the Art of Stopping" kicks things off frantically and the band goes into overdrive on the deconstructed speed metal/hardcore onslaught of "Comet," with Grey's characteristically relentless, rigid beat at the center of the sonic maelstrom; aside from Colin Newman's trademark sneer, this could be an outtake from Motörhead's Overkill. Although there's a respite on the shouty "I Don't Understand," with its ominous, lumbering groove recalling "Lowdown," elsewhere Wire sustains the amphetamine pace. They end with a bang on "The Agfers of Kodack," an assaultive number enveloped in Bruce Gilbert's swarm-of-bees guitar. During a 1977 Wire gig at London's Roxy, a heckler shouted at the band after every number, "That's better, now louder and faster." Read & Burn 01 suggests that 25 years later, Wire might still be hearing that voice egging them on.
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AllMusic Review by Wilson Neate