Record review: Wire, Red Barked Tree


There are innumerable bands that are clearly influenced by Wire; any indie rock band from Franz Ferdinand to Bloc Party pay their debts to Wire’s innovative play between obscure songwriting and part-punk/part-post-rock musicianship. The pared-down lineup of Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey are just as creatively intriguing and lyrically ambiguous as they’ve ever been on Red Barked Tree.

Their music is overwhelmingly nostalgic, that being a compliment of the highest order. Wire are one of the few bands of their time yet to become clichéd imprints of their former selves (cough, The Cure), and on this record the tradition of submerged guitars, borderline psychedelic riffs like that in Adapt and the pull-push between tension and calm are presented pristinely.

The lyrics are well worth paying attention to, especially in Please Take as Newman deadpans ‘Please take your knife out of my back’ before passive-aggressively growling ‘Get the fuck out of my life.’ Years have passed and success is their friend, but that quintessentially British accent is front and centre. Always prepared to pull the listener out of their comfort zone, Two Minutes follows a delicate piano riff with reverb-riddled guitars and voices that range from manic to scolding, ending with screeches and ‘I’ll tell you who I hate on a daily basis.’

Occasionally the songs verge on a 90s indie slacker vibe, like the bouncing bass and strum of Clay. The songwriting takes an abstract turn with bizarre references to pimps and peanut butter sandwiches on Bad Worn Thing, but the bass line is ear-gnawingly addictive.

Wire – pushing sonic boundaries in incredible ways from 1977 to now.

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