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Red Barked Tree

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Editors’ Notes

British post-punk pioneers Wire are still at it, and Red Barked Tree makes a neat dozen LPs by the band (well, the remaining 3/4s of the group) since their inception back in 1976. After the hard-edged Send and the satisfying-but-not-quite-spectacular Object 47, the surprisingly powerful Red Barked Tree is a record fans will likely see rise to the top half of their Wire favorites list. The taut, grinding, hypnotic grooves that define the band’s sound are here (“Two Minutes,” “Moreover,” “Smash”), as is the group’s trademark dark, unsettling neo-pop (“Adapt,” “Please Take,” “Clay,” “A Flat Tent”).  Red Barked Tree has more in common with 154 and Chairs Missing than with their seminal debut, Pink Flag, and those atmospheric tones are in full employ on the beautiful “Down to This” and the brooding title track; both are created in the shadowy, art-rock hues of gray and black that colored the band’s early work, but there’s a clarity and freshness that is exhilarating. Wire once again thrills longtime fans, and shows younger indie kids how it’s done.

Customer Reviews

Deja Vu - In a Very Good Way

I have followed Wire's ever changing sound since the very early days - sweating it out in punky basement clubs. There is no single definitive Wire sound, there have been phases - some melodic, some loud and shouty, some avant garde, some commercially accessible. This collection seems to weave some of the classic Wire themes into a beautifully crafted new work. Whether this was the intention or not - it is quite wonderful. I can hear subtle echoes of Kidney Bingos, Feeling Called Love, I am the Fly, Used To, A Question of Degree and more!

Excellent album

All great. No fill!

O.K but fails to impress

The one of the most influential post-punk bands of the late 70s and 80s release their 12th album. Since the creation of their own record label ‘Pink Flag’, Wire have been trying to return to their roots. Yet, what we are left with is a mixed bag of an album in the form of ‘Red Barked Tree’. Whilst ‘Smash’ screams classic Wire with its simplistic down-stroke guitars, mid-tempo and drums, the production of the album drags it down. Colin Newman’s 56 year old vocals haven’t suffered, however the over-the-top use of ‘chorus’ effects on Newman’s voice is a bit too much and seems unnecessary. The use of effects also links to the over-compression of the album itself. The guitars and bass seem to almost merge together into a saturated, over-modulated mess, which hurts some of the slower tracks (‘Down To This’) and is surprising coming from Wire. The production of this album really hinders the great impression from songs like ‘Please Take’, with its simplicity in the lyrics and the guitars. Overall, this is a competent indie-rock album by Wire, but fails to achieve the same vibrance and charm from their previous albums such as Pink Flag.


Formed: 1976 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Wire emerged out of the British punk explosion but, from the outset, maintained a distance from that scene and resisted easy categorization. While punk rapidly became a caricature of itself, Wire's musical identity -- focused on experimentation and process -- was constantly metamorphosing. Their first three albums alone attest to a startling evolution as the band repeatedly reinvented itself between 1977 and 1979. That capacity for self-reinvention, coupled with a willingness to stop recording indefinitely...
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