The English post-punk band, Wire, has enjoyed a largely monolithic career –since the 70’s Wire has been leaving their mark through dedicated musicianship and careful efforts. At this point in the game, they’re the vanguard, keeping the spirit of post-punk darkness alive. And still the band manages to work in some fresh influence and keep things good.
Wire’s latest album, Nocturnal Koreans, is a tribute to the band’s own creativity –the byproduct of revived inspiration. For this release, Wire approached several old ideas, remnants of past compositions, and breathed some serious life into them. Nocturnal Koreans is good –real good, accessible –widely enjoyable while still interesting, and powerful.
Admittedly, it’s pretty easy to become jaded about new music, especially post-punk revival groups, but again, Wire is part of the vanguard –they’ve been around the block. Still, skepticism runs rampant when considering how far the genre can even go at this point. By a stroke of luck or excellence, Wire manages to keep Nocturnal Koreans in the safe zone and even sells some tracks that are enough to make your knees weak. The opening-title track comes to mind.
Press play and Wire begins to flood your stereo with vigorous guitar lines and hazy, deep vocals. The song, “Nocturnal Koreans,” is an energetic opening track that eases you into the mood. Wire grounds itself in a darker ambiance while keeping things rock. It’s an accessible track but a great introduction. The light amounts of distortion paired with percussive energy, the synthesizer and the vocals all work synergistically –each layer of texture coming together perfectly.
Of the other more memorable tracks, “Numbered” also stood out. Once again, Wire approaches with a bit of energy. Guitars and drums carry the song in a cacophony –vocals cut through sharply. Ominous atmosphere surrounds the song and adds a very important level of depth. Finally, synthesizers begin dancing through the percussive hits and form an engaging soundscape –the song ends like a dream.
Often, this sort of super atmospheric listen worth savoring (rather than just passively listening) is common for Nocturnal Koreans. Wire’s musicianship is explicitly displayed. A mix of instruments utilized in a variety of ways (that often bring up some 80’s vibes) make the album constantly fresh while still safely familiar. Still, admittedly, sometimes the band leaves something to be desired.
Disclaimer! Disclaimer! Nocturnal Koreans is not perfect. This is not a masterpiece nor is it a gift from god. It’s just a good album. Unfortunately Nocturnal Koreans doesn’t really deal out a blockbuster that will leave you in awe. But the album is consistently enjoyable. Wire just possess a je ne sais quoi that allows Nocturnal Koreans to stand out so much more from that other stuff.
With all that said, I don’t think it would be fair to give Wire a pass on prestige alone but I don’t think it would be fair to be critical for the same reasons. Ultimately, Nocturnal Koreans is a solid album. It provides a variety of songs –all meticulously constructed. Post-punk fans need to listen to Nocturnal Koreans, Wire fans would do well to hang out with the album for a bit, and the rest of us could benefit from meeting the album once or twice. If you’re looking to slowly broaden those horizons, cross into uncharted territory, and explore some great new music –Wire’s Nocturnal Koreans has you covered.