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Refusing to repeat Pink Flag, Wire sound completely different on this their second album. If anything, Wire sound more unique and innovative here than on their first album, and this is probably their most influential music.

Instead of bare-bones guitar rock, the band experiment with synth/pop, where the fragmentation of Captain Beefheart, the icy roboticisms of Kraftwerk, and the art/garage clamor of Pere Ubu are twisted into a quirky and compelling blend.

The songwriting isn't as strong as on the debut however - Wire forget to incorporate the pop component of synth/pop, and while hooks abound like crazy, there's a noticable shortage of melodies. Notable exceptions are the pretty "Outdoor Miner" single, and "French Film Blurred", which relies on an intriguing, foreboding tension for its effect.

The band stretches the song lengths too, which isn't an entirely positive development - the 6-minute "Mercy" will have listeners begging for exactly that.

Cold and abrasive, Chairs Missing hops around, predicting industrial music with its shocks of cacophony and deliberate attempts to irritate, a point the band make clear with the anthem "I Am The Fly". So it's a tough listen, but eventually a rewarding one (the reissue adds a couple of useless experiments along with the jaw-dropping single "Question of Degree").

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Posted: Thursday 30th May 2019 9:28 AM

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album review
Well, it's noisy and stupid. Those are compliments.  A noise/rock amalgam of Jesus Lizard (the main influence), The Melvins, Black Flag, Flipper, Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney et al, Shallow is what might be expected from a group of young working class males from industrially depressed Allentown, PA, making a drunken racket after being inspired by the World Wrestling Federation.

Drop in at any random point in any random song and for about 75 seconds it's raw, sloppy, exciting rock'n'roll, the volume pushed to 11 in the Blue Cheer / Spinal Tap tradition, crushing Sabbath riffs, and atonally brain-damaged free/jazzy guitar squeal-solos. It's all been done before and better, but for anyone wanting some fresh slop, the band live up to their name with squealing maggotry.

Problem is, oh what a difference good songwriting makes. Perhaps that's excessive praise - there is zero songwriting on this album, a wisely brief eight-song platter that splatters by in barely half an hour. It's not just that the lyrics (what little I can make out), amount to retarded banalities like I wanna taste those boring girls, it's supposed to be stoopid and moronic, as a title like "Ashamed of My Cum" attests.

The songs aren't as structureless and random as they at first appear, but they still don't go much of anywhere on the third or fourth listen either - when the band do keep it straightforward and simple with a blunt chorus, it's too primitive even by wrestling fan standards (witness "Boring Girls").

I'd figure a track like "Ugly Twin" would spend its 7+minutes figuring where to go, but it's just a dull drag. Fortunately, none of the other songs are that long. It gets off to a great start, though, even if "I'm Sick" seems to owe a small debt to Mudhoney's similarly-titled classic.

Perhaps the band should've invested a little time and effort into writing some actual songs, instead of just grabbing a case of Iron City beer, plugging in, and randomly spewing out squeals and distortion.

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Posted: Monday 24th Jun 2019 11:59 AM

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