”Strange” Newman/$Gilbert/$Lewis/$Gotobed (1977)
Much of Wire’s debut album, Pink Flag is a bundle of nervy sound bites. An overt departure from this anxious aesthetic, ”Strange” is a languid lowdown track more akin to the hypnotic late night grooves favored by the likes of The Velvet Underground than punk. It’s only in singer Colin Newman’s tense warbling vocal that places the song distinctly in late‘70’s British punk. Newman’s words drip paranoia, “There’s something going on tonight / Something going on that’s not quite right / Joey’s nervous and the lights are bright / There’s something going on that’s not quite right” -and seem incongruous with the grungy, lax, two chord guitar progression but ultimately serve to highlight the contrast between the music’s cool reserve and Newman’s neurotic rambling. The arrangement offers little change, only a brief key drop that has the guitars digging even lower, jolting Newman’s raw nerves anew, as his heavily accented vocal becoming increasingly agitated. ”Strange” is the longest track on the album, nearly reaching the four minute mark, the song’s last minute and a half is textured by strange quivering background noises and ghostly tones that are credited in the liner notes as the flute playing of Kate Lucas, but one would be hard pressed to identify such sounds as coming from a flute. As tireless innovators, Wire seem in constant search of new sounds and ways to alter traditional musical arrangements. True to form ”Strange” fades to the clatter of multiple drums sticks while the rest of the music drops slowly away.