Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Wire - Pink Flag

I bought this record when it came out but for numerous reasons (oddly, not the least being that it comes towards the end of the alphabet and those records get put away separately), it was never a big hit with me. I found the CD recently at a reasonable price so I thought I'd give it another chance in a format that I can listen to at work, in my car, etc.

Known for their brevity in their songs (some make Ramones tunes look like opuses) and their stripped down sound, they move through a number of different styles throughout the 21 song (!) album. There's plenty of emotional, late 70's punk sounds, a touch of pop'n'harmonies here'n'there, minimalist pre-no-wave, and even some pre-hardcore.

Of course, the closer "12XU" is one of their best known numbers from this time, a ferocious, somewhat low-fi slice of chant-along punk mania, but this is almost the exception to their oeuvre rather than the rule. The throbbing, power-chord-drenched opener, "Reuters", is a stand out, the helter-skelter rhythms of "Field Day for the Sundays" and "Three Girl Rumba" flash by before you know it, but the influential "Ex Lion Tamer" (often covered and a band named themselves after this title) is a bit more straight-ahead punk/rock'n'roll, while they get more moody'n'edgy with "Lowdown", a bit further oft-kilter in "Start To Move" and even lift a "Sister Ray" stomp for "Strange". They move between these styles, and combine them, throughout the rest of the quirky record.

Not exactly catchy, and not something that I would listen to regularly, but a neat bit of early early punk rock, when it wasn't regimented and had innumerable influences.