Wire: Colin Newman, B.C. Gilbert (vocals, guitars); Graham Lewis (vocals, bass); Robert Gotobed (drums).
Additional personnel: Hilly Kristal (vocals); Tim Souster (electric viola); Kate Lucas (alto flute); Joan Whiting (English horn); Mike Thorne (keyboards).
Like its predecessor, 1977's CHAIRS MISSING, 154 finds Wire moving away from its punk roots toward darker, more experimental horizons. There is less overt anger and insolence than in the past, and in its place is plenty of dark weirdness. Truly disturbing at certain points, this album is a challenging listen. This is not a record to slap on while you clean up the house.
Beginning with the sinister "I Should Have Known Better" a song that has so little to do with the same-titled Beatles song that it really is scary, 154 follows with the shambling, atonal "Two People in a Room" and the choppy, robotic guitars of "The 15th." The fiendish "A Touching Display" sounds like music for a primitive rite, while on "A Mutual Friend," close British Invasion-flavored harmonies collide with harsh, dangerous-sounding guitar chords. The highlight here, and arguably the most incredible song in Wire's book, is "Map Ref. 41 N, 93 W." Words fail to conjure the otherworldly majesty of this track. It may be some kind of twisted cartographer's love song, but it could also be the backing music for a love scene between two artificial intelligences. What can you say? A stunner.
- Format: Vinyl
- Released: 7/20/2018