Wire, The Ideal Copy

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 07.14.11 in Reviews

The Ideal Copy


Reuniting in 1985 after half a decade off, Wire decided that they were going to start completely fresh, to the point where they refused to play old material on tour. And they really started from scratch: Whatever anyone might have expected from the band that made the Pink Flag-Chairs Missing-154 sequence, “electronics-heavy dance-rock” was almost certainly not it. The other surprise of the new lineup’s first full album, released in 1987, was that they were incredibly adept at electronics-heavy dance-rock. “Ahead,” built around a frantically flickering funk guitar riff, is a vision of sex that’s unambiguously pleasure-centered, for once, although it’s also as splintered and refracted as anything in their catalogue.

Starting again from scratch

The band had been paying attention to the industrial music and electro-pop that had developed in their absence, too. Graham Lewis’s creepy-crawly showcase, “Feed Me,” is built around a series of MIDI noises that detonate in the mix like artillery shells, and not many bands (other than New Order) had figured out how to combine a drum kit and programmed beats as cleverly as Wire did here. The current version of the album also includes the 1986 Snakedrill EP that relaunched Wire’s career — the relentless “Drill” and “A Serious of Snakes,” in particular, are among the most thrilling tracks this incarnation recorded.