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Album Review

Wire, 'Red Barked Tree'

January 10, 2011

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By now, there’s standard protocol for approaching R.I.P.P.s (Reunited Influential Post-Punkers): Whether we’re talking Pixies or PiL, Buzzcocks or Burma, our expectations must be tempered with patience. Some will rise (Burma), others will rust (PiL), and most are just trying to catch up on their mortgages; the point is that these vets are owed for the indifference they met during their retro-active heydays, and our ears (so steeped in the sounds of thousands of bands who ripped them off) must pay the bill. Wire, then, presents a refreshing alternative to all this obligation-rock. Keeping a steady three-album-per-decade clip since the ’70s, Wire never went away, and never settled on one sound. While their 12th album, “Red Barked Tree,’’ softens the breakneck turns of their name-making efforts, it does capture (with unexpected clarity) the band’s enduring cleverness (“A Flat Tent’’), its knack for transforming textures into brute force (“Two Minutes’’), its skill with simplicity (“Please Take’’), and its boundless energy (“Moreover’’). As late efforts go, “Red Barked Tree’’ sounds alive, vital, and appropriately restless; and as aging rockers go, Wire remains well worth whatever wait comes next.

MICHAEL BRODEUR

ESSENTIAL “Two Minutes’’