Saturday, August 8, 2015

Track of the Week: Wire "Mr Suit"

There are few bands that have grabbed me on first listen like Wire.  I first heard "12XU" on a Rhino's great DIY punk rock compilation series, and was struck by their brutal yet catchy minimalism.  While on a student trip to Germany the summer after high school I spent a lot of time in record stores, mostly because my options for music in my hometown were so limited.  I picked up the On Returning compilation, where I realized that "12XU" was actually pretty accessible compared to some of Wire's other tracks.  Nevertheless,  I probably spent too much of my time in the my host family's house absorbing the music I was buying rather than seeing the sights.  Thus are the perils of being a teenage music geek.

Wire had the philosophy that a song shouldn't overstay its welcome, meaning that their debut album Pink Flag  clocks in at only 35 minutes, but has over twenty songs.  Some of the songs stretch to a (for them) epic three minutes.  Others come in and out like a fast car through a small town without a streetlight.  "Mr Suit" is my favorite of these songs, it's a minute and half of pure propulsion.  The guitar tone has some ineffable quality that I still can't get over all these years later.  The lyrics are also a profane kiss off to a be-suited boss, which is pretty damn punk.

There really isn't another band out there like Wire, one that could combine the punk aesthetic with a non-obnoxious artiness.  In its own way it was a lot more challenging to its listeners than the Sex Pistols ranting about "Anarchy in the UK."

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