Wire

Red Barked Tree (Pink Flag)

Phases & Stages

Wire

Red Barked Tree (Pink Flag)

Now on a third reincarnation, UK art-punk pioneers Wire channel the vitality of their 1970s/1980s canon into something far more hungry and adventurous than simply a resewn Pink Flag. With three of four original members (guitarist Bruce Gilbert bowed out in 2004), Red Barked Tree evolves like a bell curve – starting cool, building to a boil, and gradually coming back down. The curtain opens on "Please Take," a sleek, midtempo cruiser couched in the polite British vocal restraint of bassist Graham Lewis, at least until he croons, "Fuck off out of my face" to touch off the chorus. Misbegotten anthem "Adapt" gets mired in the vintage moodiness of Colin Newman's saturated guitar riffs, but it works as setup for "Two Minutes," a blasting, spoken-word overload cut and pasted from random sources. "A Flat Tent" is the head-bobbingest distillation of Wire's sharp-edged pop smarts, while "Smash" speeds along on a surly bassline and perfectly aired snare snaps that are then overtaken by jagged swirls of defoliated guitar. The closing title track borrows an unlikely acoustic psych-folk pastiche as a spiritual bulwark against the free-market abuses described in the lyrics. That particular departure doesn't make the leap from novel to genuinely engaging, but it offers concrete evidence that Wire's capacity for reinvention is far from cashed. (Wire crashes Mohawk Friday, April 8.)

***

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Wire
The Pleasure Principle
The Pleasure Principle
The Light at the end of the Tunnel: Austin's Eighties-inflected Nerve-rock

Christopher Gray, April 25, 2003

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Batty Jr.
Wormholes (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, Aug. 10, 2018

Texas Platters
Christeene
Basura (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Aug. 10, 2018

More by Greg Beets
Texas Platters
Marmalakes
Please Don't Stop (Record Review)

June 1, 2018

Texas Platters
Powell St. John
Sultan of Psychedelia (Record Review)

May 4, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Wire

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle