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Music Review

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Mind Hive


Artist: Wire
Label: pinkflag
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 20 January 2020

Pinkflag releases Mind Hive, the 17th album by Post Punk band Wire. The band has been going for more than 40 years – their debut album, Pink Flag emerging back in 1977. The current line-up incorporates Colin Newman on vocals and rhythm guitar, Graham Lewis on bass guitar and vocals, Matthew Simms on guitar, and Robert Grey on drums. Mind Hive is the first recorded material since 2017’s critically acclaimed Silver/Lead. They are said to have influenced the likes of R.E.M., Joy Division, and My Bloody Valentine, and are the subjects of a career-spanning documentary called People in a Film...

We kick-off with 'Be Like Them', with spoken but tuneful, low-toned vocals sounding more like New Wave than Punk – perhaps John Foxx as a comparison. This is moderately paced bass and drums-driven, with a returned-to staggered guitar piece. It fades with a fluttering, as if falling through a hole in the ground. Not having heard Wire before, I’d been expecting 100 miles an hour heaviness, so this comes as a refreshing surprise. All of the vocals can be heard in 'Cactused' (which will please the oldies). There’s a pattern here of oddly spoken words and light accompaniment, with a more melodic and fuller sound chorus.

With 'Primed and Ready' the electronics take us away from preconceptions – especially for a Post Punk band. This makes up the introduction, riff and the short instrumental break. These songs are not afraid to end abruptly, without any fading or indication. 'Off the Beach' sounds like a light Pop Rock song. Certainly commercial enough to be a single. “Have you ever been washed off the beach?” This seems to be a simple study of humankind. Now we come to 'Unrepentant'. Is this an attempt to be 1970s Psychedelic Rock? It’s a good copy of Pink Floyd from 1971, at times sounding a little like their song 'Fearless'. It even has the smooth and echoed vocals. Nice though.

'Shadows' is dreamy and slow and, for me, a little dull. 'Oklahoma' has a melancholy opening, bursting into a moderate Pop song with a difference. The vocals are spoken in an off-kilter way, reminiscent of the Electronica around the time before New Wave broke through. An attempt to be humourless and weird, perhaps. 'Hung' has Industrial elements to it. An overall soundscape wherein the vocals come and go. “In the moment of doubt the damage was done.” These words being a short-lived heaviness. This is the longest track by far. Pink Floyd raise their heads quite often in this music. Is this where the Pink Flag album title and label came from?

'Humming' is a weak track to finish with (the album should have closed with 'Hung'). This has a bass and keys intro. This is a slow and slightly Jazzy number which sounds nightclub-ish. Mind Hive is a solid enough release, with some unusual direction in the songs. It’s different and, in places, quite diverse. The home grown Wire were due to play the Islington Assembly Hall in May; it’s a shame that current world events will prevent this.


Ty Power

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