Monday, August 25, 2008
On my iPod, I've got Wire's "One of Us" and David Byrne-Brian Eno's "Strange Overtones" back to back, unintentionally. The Byrne-Eno track is obviously about the act of creating music; the Wire song is too. Opening with a bass hook that's instantly the catchiest thing this Calvinist foursome has come up with since 1988's "Kidney Bingos," and a first line that spells out their intentions as clearly as if Pink Flag was recorded in 2007 ("Can't make it plainer"), Wire carve out a piece of agitated agit-pop whose arrangement is a capitulation and delineation. It's about the band's relationship with its audience, and a dry acknowledgment of what we expect from Wire: mystery, aural and lyrical, coated with ugly vocals and a guitar tone that, in 1977 and now, sounds Pro Tooled within an inch of its life. Their music is all strange overtones. Vocalist Colin Newman seems as human as Byrne has since 1983 copping to insecurities like "Are you an also-ran/Finished, inconsequential?" (Answer: not quite). Since Byrne-Eno collectively and separately have meant more to me over the years than Wire, I'm inclined to prefer their small triumph, especially when they harmonize over the chorus : if you think Newman's transformation from Tin Man is something, you'll really dig how vulnerable Byrne sounds singing at the top of his range on the verses.
Posted by Alfred Soto at 7:46 PM