WIR, The First Letter

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 07.14.11 in Reviews

The First Letter

Closer to their arty, smeary work in the ’80s

Following the recording of Manscape, drummer Robert “Gotobed” Grey left Wire. The other three members briefly carried on under the name Wir for this album, a few other stray tracks and a couple of gigs. The First Letter is closer to the arty, smeary records Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis made together in the ’80s (under the names Dome and Cupol) than to any of Wire’s other albums. It’s only incidentally and intermittently a “song” record: after its opening sequence of “Take It (For Greedy),” a one-note litany built on what sounds a lot like a sample of Pink Flag‘s “Strange,” and the understated synth-pop pulse and two-voice counterpoint of “So and Slow It Grows,” it becomes much more about sound experiments than compositions. That’s fine — Gilbert, Lewis and Colin Newman have always been first-class texturalists, and throwing both the “beat-combo” format and the possibility of alternative rock careerism out the window lets them have some fun with clanking loops, answering-machine tapes and MIDI-triggered noises.