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."