Wire - Red Barked Tree
If your favorite Wire is the one that recorded searing, innovative punk and new wave in the 1970s, the outfit's 11th album, Red Barked Tree, holds a few magic moments: "Two Minutes" is a melodramatic thud that runs the titular length before cutting off in the midst of unfinished catharsis, in dadaist Pink Flag fashion; "Clay" is propulsive synthpop that rewrites "I Am the Fly" from Chairs Missing. In 2011, Wire can still sound like eager young rebels.
If your favorite Wire is the one who imbued danceable pop with cynicism and dread in the 1980s, "Smash" and "Please Take" are their most commercial cuts since "Eardrum Buzz," and "A Flat Tent" will embarrass MGMT. But they mastered all this decades ago. The sole twists are the textured folk on the title cut and the rhythmic intricacy on "Now Was." Still, this is a Wire album. If they've kept you, they won't disappoint now. And if you're the oddball who fell hard for the apocalyptic dirges of 154, there's one of those here too.