Wire

Red Barked Tree

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In an interview with Crawdaddy magazine after the band regrouped in 2000, Wire frontman and guitarist Colin Newman said that the band's original intention was to destroy rock & roll by removing the roll from the equation. Drummer Robert Grey (aka Robert Gotobed), played a large part in the removal of "the roll" from the band's music. His straightforward timekeeping eschewed fills and cymbal splashes in favor of a simple, driving rhythm that gave much of the band's music its linear, avant-garde feel. But despite their roots in punk, they've always had a few tunes on every album that could pass for pop hits, and that holds true here. "Please Take" opens the record with its warm melodic feel, even if the lyrics ("Please take your knife out of my back") are anything but the usual pop fodder. The album ends with another pop gem, "Red Barked Trees," a polished tune that sounds like a psychedelic-era Beatles number, complete with a scathing lyric that lays out the ills of modern society with bitter irony. The rest of the album ranges over the styles that have made the band so hard to pin down. "Two Minutes" is a punk screed about hating everyone and everything, driven by Gray's measured pounding and distorted clanging guitars, "Moreover" is a noisy rock/rap tune driven by short, sharp lyrical bursts, grinding guitar, and Gray's steady traps, and "Smash," another clattering, linear punk tune that's actually broken up by a chorus. Red Barked Tree is another strong effort, and while Wire is still making music that shatters expectations, after 30 years they're sounding a lot like the mainstream rockers they once despised.

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