Thursday, June 24, 2010
When you hear a truly great record, you automatically wish you'd made it. My first listen to Wire's "154" came about 20+ years after its initial release, but nonetheless had an enormous impact on me, and my first thought upon hearing it was, "I wish I'd made that." It was a complete departure from the band I'd listened to on the punk classic "Pink Flag", which had already changed punk music for me, and their sophomore album "Chairs Missing." No one I knew really had even heard of Wire, let alone "154" so to discover this album was a huge change.
154 toes the line of the avant-garde and pop. It challenges the listener, which is one thing I always find very appealing in an album. Most people want a smooth album of hits, songs with formula, and Wire completely threw that out the window. 154 contains some beautiful and catchy pop songs (the single for the album was "Map Ref. 41 N 93 W", but most would recognize "The 15th" - probably because of the shitty Fischerspooner cover) and totally dark, damaged soundscapes which borderline noise ("The Other Window", "Once Is Enough"), yet they made them work together. It's a full album effort, not a cluster of hit tracks. While the album differs from previous releases, it is unmistakeably the same interesting group. No band wants to become stagnant, and Wire never did.
It was became apparent to me how the album starting influencing my songwriting. Songs starting coming together that I never would have thought would work before. Exploring instruments I’d never considered using became a favorite way of attempting new tracks. I started writing lyrics that weren’t blatant in their messages, but just as personal and meaningful all the same. I always tried to further my interest in music, and my own work, but this felt like a natural progression. “154” simply overtook my brain.
For being such an incredible album, it always seemed strange to me that Wire never achieved much success. It’s very easy to hear its influence on a number of artists, some mainstream and many very small. Of course, thirty years after the fact, critics laud their efforts, but the band and their albums always stayed under the radar. It’s quite a testament to them that something like “154” continues to be influential, interesting, and timeless for those who seek it.
—Mark Peterson, Fangs Out
Wire - Blessed State (Mp3)
Wire - On Returning (Mp3)
Wire - The 15th (Mp3)
Posted by Jon at 9:11 AM