Send is a quasi-compilation and pseudo-new album from an older and much more ferocious Wire; it plucks seven songs from the two low-key Read & Burn EPs the group released on its own Pink Flag label in 2002 and adds four new ones. This is the culmination, perhaps, of the group's 1999 re-formation -- an outcome that only attendees of the terse performances and buyers of the EPs could have forecasted. Unlike a lot of re-formed groups, Wire chose not to be a jukebox with its old material while performing in front of its multi-generational crowds. The bandmembers didn't merely run through pieces of their beloved discography, or even inject new life into them -- they tore through them with a vigorous energy that teetered on the brink of violence. The new material collected and built on here takes on the same tightly wound, clenched-teeth direction. Thick walls of clamor are constructed on each song. The opening "In the Art of Stopping" is a relatively unassuming din of whipsaw guitars and percussion that could double as the sound of railroad ties being driven into the ground. Colin Newman's voice hectors ominously as it slowly shifts from one channel to the other and back again. All the buzzing sets up the viscous and highly repetitive grinding of "Mr. Marx's Table," where Newman takes on a more hospitable tone. On "Spent," Bruce Gilbert practically screams at the top of his lungs and fights to be heard over an overwhelming bank of industrial guitars that twist with agitated riffs and squeals. The only break from the onslaught comes during the closing "99.9," which takes nearly four minutes to be worked into another rich lather of vibrating menace. Dynamic, taut, feisty, and clever as ever, Send is this group's fourth-best album.
by Andy Kellman