Wire still kicking into the future on Primed & Ready

“Are you scoping the future?” sings Wire’s Colin Newman in the first line of ‘Primed & Ready’ — the second single off the band’s upcoming 17th album Mind Hive. Dunno about you, but over their 40-odd years, Wire have been scoping all kinds of alternative futures in music while hacking away at pre-conceived notions of punk, post-punk and the outskirts of art-rock.

In the press notes, Newman says that “‘Primed & Ready’ was the easiest song to write on the album, written in less time than it takes to play it… there’s only three chords, two in the verse and one in the chorus. As in all things Wire, less is more”.

Compared with some of Wire’s previous punk explorations, three chords borders on jazz extravagance — their iconic song ‘Pink Flag’ has two, and some tracks on their infamous 1981 live album Document & Eyewitness have none at all.

Wire Pink Flag Orchestra, Brighton 2014
Pink Flag Guitar Orchestra, 2014. I’m far left, photo by Fabrizio Clemenza (centre, Neu! tee)

A few years ago I somehow got to play as part of the 17-piece Pink Flag Guitar Orchestra at their Drill Festival in Brighton and only had to ‘learn’ one chord and just hammered it for 10 minutes, stopping only for Newman to holler “HOW MANY DEAD OR ALIVE?!” at opportune moments.

‘Primed & Ready’ opens with heavily processed riff that could be looped into a wiry electro banger, before it’s knocked sideways with some post-hardcore menace and an all-in dirge chorus, all offset by Newman’s effortless, sarcastic vocal melodies. We’re less than a minute in at this point. More is more.

  • Mind Hive is out on January 24 on Wire’s own Pink Flag label. More like this please…