Throughout their long, on-off career, Wire have never rested on past glories. Now, surrounded by a new new wave of spiky British art-rock heavily influenced by their golden era, they continue to release new material every bit as urgent and interesting. From the hard, almost industrial sounds and raw-throated aggression of the first Read & Burn EP in 2002, to the more measured, melodic tension of R&B 02 the same year, Wire have proved themselves more than just a cool influence to cite.
R&B 03 takes them down stranger paths, dominated by the near-10-minute 23 Years Too Late, which pairs oblique spoken-word sections, somewhere between Dylan Thomas and Tom Baker on Little Britain (“Fun-filled firemen visit the Museum Of Backward Hats…”) with an incongruous snarly punk chorus over muted, fuzzy guitar to surreal effect. Our Time offers dirty and tense electronica with grindy bass and nervy cymbals, and No Warning Given and the post-rocky Desert Dying are similarly menacing. It’s the barely suppressed rancour in Newman’s voice that drives the EP along; while it’s never clear from their bizarre lyrics precisely what Wire are angry about, it’s clear they’re still angry. All bodes well for the album due in 2008, on which none of these songs will be included; Wire are always on the move.