One of the great joys of Wire's music in the 2010s and beyond is how brilliantly they reinvent their enduring strengths in equally timeless and timely ways. On Mind Hive, the band's legendary skill at writing concise songs filled with layers of meaning comes to the fore. Even its title is compact yet complex, flipping a statement of shared knowledge -- and perhaps conformity -- into one of restless intelligence. Wire don't waste any of the album's terse 35 minutes; instead of the ruminative approach they took on Silver/Lead, they immediately spring into action. They're still unrivaled at capturing crisis points in their music: On "Be Like Them," Colin Newman's voice is chiseled to a fine point and backed by hammering riffs as he laments humanity's vicious, and violent, circles. Graham Lewis takes a more surreal approach with lyrics like "I admired your sexy hearse" on "Oklahoma," but the tension that runs through it is just as taut as it is on the hypnotic, nerve-wracking "Hung." Wire's time-tested flair for cloaking ominous moods in irresistible tunes shines on Mind Hive, particularly on a string of incisive pop songs in the vein of Chair's Missing. It's still thrilling to hear Newman proclaim "discard new litanies" over sparkling guitars and keyboards on "Cactused," and if the grinding groove of "Primed and Ready" sounds surprisingly upbeat, "Off the Beach"'s lilting melody and uneasy imagery ("CC cameras/Knives and hammers") reinforces the overall mood of justified paranoia. Later, when Wire revisits the more expansive style of albums such as Silver/Lead, it's just as purposeful as what came before. The deceptively serene glide of "Unrepentant" offers a breather from the album's forceful beginnings and ushers in its brooding second half, which is exemplified by "Shadows." A glimpse of an atrocity that could have happened decades ago -- or could be yet to occur -- it's a harrowing, masterful example of Wire's eloquence when it comes to history repeating itself. Crucially, when they touch on their own past, it never, ever sounds complacent (of course, it never sounded complacent back then, either). The issues Wire grapple with are evergreen, and as they persevere in the face of stupidity and apathy, Mind Hive's unflinching, poetic songs prove maturity is a weapon they wield just as deftly as outrage.
Mind Hive Review
by Heather Phares