Posted by: Nick Walters | February 21, 2011

Wire: Red Barked Tree

Wire are a band I really should have got into, considering my musical tastes. They’ve always been on the periphery: I think I saw them at the Reading Festival once; I’ve got The Ideal Copy (their 4th album), It’s Beginning To And Back Again (a compilation), and their excellent 1991 album The First Letter which they recorded under the name Wir due to Robert Gotobed’s temporary departure. And I know the song Outdoor Miner cos the Blue Aeroplanes covered it on their 2007 covers album, Harvester.

So when in dreary dull depressing January I found out about their new album, I thought, Why not, it’s had great reviews, it’s about time I got more of their stuff so now seems the time. And I’m jolly glad I did, it’s a fab record. Beautiful and interesting and a bit weird. It’s also quite mellow – apart from the industrial thrash of 2 Minutes, and even that seems rather polite. I’m not sure how this compares to their back catalogue – I can only remember bits of the Wir album (will rectify this shortly!) – but I’ve read that this is a calmer, more considered recording as befitting men of middle age. That said, the first song features the lyric, “fuck off out of my face”, so they’ve lost none of their “punk attitude.”  Man.

Elsewhere the lyrics are funny, sometimes silly, sometimes clever – “the absolute of vodka kings”, “I remember what he said, we are all like spuds and bread!”,  “A dirty cartoon duck covers a village in shit, possibly signalling the end of Western civilisation, as if I give a fuck” – and often cryptic. The last track, the almost-title song Red Barked Trees, seems to suggest that this album is intended to heal, to soothe the souls of those adrift in the madness of 2011 Tory Britain: “The search is on in Southern seas, to find the healing red barked trees.” Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but prior references to pacing Chancellors and consumer excess make me think I am on the right track. Knowing me I’ll probably take ages getting around to the rest of their catalogue, but if you like me are a relative newcomer to Wire, Red Barked Tree is a fine place to start.



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