Post-masters

By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  October 2, 2008

Those sound like fighting words, and they make the Wire æsthetic sound more confrontational than it is. So much of the Wire style has involved creating music with an almost postmodernist deconstruction and reconstruction of rock conventions: remove the solos, remove the verses, remove the intros and outros, remove the drum fills, then rearrange the pieces and see what you can make with what you have left. Their latest, the poppy and tuneful Object 47 (so named because it is the 47th “object” they have released, counting singles, compilations, etc.), finds them crafting straight-up pop songs with surgical precision — they’ve written catchy tunes before, but it’s startling to hear such an act of reinvention from a band on their 11th album in three decades. Newman: “Every album has got to somehow be a commentary on the one that preceded it. Even the Ramones couldn’t even keep up making every record the same as the one before. The thing is, if we’re gravitating more towards noise [on one album], and then if we’re not doing noise anymore [on the next album], people who like noise think we’re traitors.”

There isn’t much seditious talk about Object 47 — “Perspex Icon” and album opener “One of Us” are catchy and driving enough to obliterate any objections to the less-distorted æsthetic — though it certainly is a change from 2003’s distorted and rockingly intense Send. “That album was partly about proving that we could still get it up. And it came out in that rush, that millennial-cusp type of rock, which was stuff that was going on at the time that has kind of subsided now. That full-on rock thing from the early part of this decade, I’m not feeling that anymore at all. I’m kind of feeling, in general, very bored with rock music.”

Finding ways to escape boredom seems to be the key to Wire’s creativity in each new phase they go through. With the departure of original guitarist Bruce Gilbert, Newman, bassist Graham Lewis, and drummer Robert Grey are a trio on Object 47, and looking to be studied and catchy, at times trading in their trademark monochromatic claustrophobia for sonic and lyrical nuances.

“I think, you know, obviously Wire always reinvents itself with every new recording. Send was very much in construction: the core set of tracks was related to a kind of garage-rock æsthetic, which basically means one very big guitar, you know? And I worked with Bruce to develop these massive guitar sounds; there’s not really any space for anything else in that kind of track. And with him not there [for the recording of Object 47], we just took a different view, to have something that includes much more bass and have the guitars not be quite so full-register, and then have the guitars in a different sonic area — but actually, that wound up sounding more like old Wire!”

WIRE | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | October 8 at 9 pm | $18 advance/$20 doors | 617.864.EAST or www.mideastclub.com

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