In The Big Book of Rock Music Clichés, "timeless" is written beneath "great." If a record is influential, and if it still holds up more than a decade after its release, then it can't be of its time. It has to float around, untethered from its era, plucked down whenever we drop a needle or steal a riff, but ultimately stuck in some liminal space. By this logic, "Uptown Funk" is better than anything George Clinton touched; the 1975's latest album is better than than Never Mind the Bollocks; Tame Impala's Currents is better than Born To Run. It's silly.
London four-piece Wire have made some great albums in their 40-year career and they've influenced every guitar band with half a drop of innovative energy. But "timeless" does them a disservice. Their 1977 debut Pink Flag had an immutable angst carved into its spit-and-spark lyricism—nothing has ever felt less "alright" than Colin Newman's "alright, alright, alright" on "Reuters"—but it was a response to its world, one that still sounds essential today without being completely detached from itself.Their 15th studio album, Silver/Lead, out March 31 but premiering on Noisey today, is another timely record from a band with an unwavering eye for the present. The angst is still there, but it follows a line drawn by their last three records: 2013's Change Becomes Us, 2015's Wire, and 2016's Nocturnal Koreans. The paranoia doesn't come through frantic ticks; instead it bubbles up in a distorted subterfuge, underpinning Newman's occasionally disturbing deadpan vocal delivery. It's deceptive, too, built around pop hooks, drawing the listener in for long enough to confound them. Here we are, Newman sings on "Short Elevated Period," "in a pivotal moment, in an uncertain future." It would have made sense 40 years ago, too; but it catches on right now.
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