Album #19: Wire – Mind Hive

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: pinkflag
  • Best Track: Oklahoma

My Wire chronology jumps pretty much from the ’70s to the present with little in between. I know and love their first two albums, the iconic 1977 record Pink Flag and its follow-up Chairs Missing the following year – post-punk before punk had even had its heyday. After that, I’m familiar with some of their ’80s work like the oddly catchy ‘Eardrum Buzz‘, but I think you have to go all the way on to 2017 before I can really speak with any knowledge about another Wire album.

The prolific Londoners are now on their seventeenth album with Mind Hive, following on from Silver/Lead three years ago. I thought the first two or three tracks off that album were superb, but after that it didn’t really excite me.

This one is the opposite if anything – it gets better as it goes on. On first listen, I thought the first track ‘Be Like Them’ was just annoying. It’s since grown on me a little but I still wouldn’t say it’s one of their better tracks. Second track ‘Cactused’ is more like it – dark and cacophonous.

It’s the final three songs where Wire really pull it out of the hat though, especially on the disturbing ‘Oklahoma’. “I admired your sexy hearse” is one of the creepiest lyrics I’ve heard in a long time!

‘Hung’ , growling on for nearly eight minutes, is a masterpiece of krautrocky rumblings and blaring sirens, while ‘Humming’ brings a haunting and pleasantly low-key conclusion to the album.

It’s a good effort from Wire, this. To their credit, they seem like they’re trying to sound slightly different on every album. It may not always work brilliantly, but when you’ve been around for as long as they have, it’s an achievement in itself to keep sounding inventive without losing your signature sound.

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