I’m supposed to tell you that Black Wire motivated the Kaiser Chiefs to write a song. That it happened one night in Leeds, UK, when the band drove the crowd at the HiFi Club to the brink of anarchy. You’re supposed to see an up-and-coming post-punk band hurling themselves around like voluntary lunatics, an audience of hipsters pogoing their fuckin’ brains out, and security inching ever closer to the stage. Behind you and to your left—beside the cute girl who’s sweeping her bangs off to the side—the Chiefs’ drummer Nick Hodgson is saying the four words that triggered his band’s success: “I Predict a Riot”.
Hungry and desperate for thrills from a band whose live show resulted in three minutes and 53 seconds of pop brilliance, I popped in the CD. Song-after-song-after song, I hunted for the violent flirtation that led to a romantic conception, whatever it was that whipped that crowd into the frenzy and ignited the muse in Hodgson. That left seven songs. Soon after, I exhausted them all, my desperation having long since mutated into frustration. That Black Wire had been in any way responsible for such a fun, frolicking ode to debauchery conflicted with what I heard, or failed to hear.
I could picture the moment and frame it with the data I had been given, but I didn’t want to hang it on my wall. And this riding another band’s coattails to popularity on some garishly embellished folk tale nonsense won’t happen, not on my watch. As a marketing ploy, it rings as hollow as the hyperbole the British press corps pass off as music journalism, i.e., “The future is Black Wire”. So what now? What happens when the inspired outshine the inspiration? I tell most of you not to waste your time. I make my own prediction: the success Black Wire currently enjoys in Britain won’t survive the middle passages.
I don’t even think the songs are horrible; it’s just that they’re just not great. “God of Traffic” opens the album, pulsating with promise. Positive tension fills the ears and some sparse taps on the piano induce anxiety. Its catchy lyrics and angular riffs place it in the company of a dozen bands doing the same (Arctic Monkeys, the Futureheads, etc.), but it doesn’t ratchet them above their contemporaries. The crackling energy that fuels their songs never lasts, fizzling mid-song alongside hazy, mediocre lyrics and instantly forgettable compositions.
Elsewhere, Black Wire ape the Kaiser Chiefs—or maybe it’s vice versa—with their “Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oooooooh” refrains. “Smoke and Mirrors” is an accurate reflection of the deception this band has undergone to appear to be the Next Big Thing. “Hard to Love (Easy to Lay)” is the first single, a throbbing good tune about bonking some bird who lacks the self-confidence to keep her legs closed.
With a fair amount of polish, Black Wire could be better. They might start by ditching the drum machine for a real drummer instead of spouting some pretentious bullshit about drummers being ugly and deviant. “Very Gun”, the album’s last track, even manages to push me to pre-riot mode with its furious stomp and machine gun lyrical delivery. But by that point, I might as well just listen to “I Predict a Riot”.