PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Wire's '10:20' Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

Photo: Giuliana Covella / Courtesy of Clarion Call Media

On 10:20, Wire retain the sound they've been cultivating for the last few albums and use it to reinvigorate and reinterpret tracks from their various periods.



19 June 2020

10:20 is, in the words of Wire, a collection of "strays", songs that wouldn't fit on previous albums, ranging from the Chairs Missing era to the present. However, these are not mere outtakes, but fairly recent recordings, four from late 2010 and four from very recently. That certainly contributes to the feeling of wholeness on this album, and it really is an album, despite how it may seem on the face of it.

It's difficult to create songs that have a high degree of forward motion without them sounding aggressive and more difficult still to make songs that are fast and yet calm, and even melancholic. One of the archetypes of this feeling is found in the motorik sound of tracks like Neu!'s "Hallogallo". This feeling is most apparent on 10:20's "The Art of Persistence", a re-recording of "Art of Persistence (1st Draft)", previously available on 2000's The Third Day EP. The original is a ramshackle affair that sounds like it was recorded in a rehearsal space, as it probably was. The lyrics seem virtually the same, and these are the same song, but on the newer version, it's as though all the players come together like they're driving lane to lane on the Autobahn.

The title of this track seems more apt in this respect since it's as though they've retained its persistence but honed the art. Maybe the title, at least in part, is reflective of the motorik nature of the track, which is also found in the original, albeit in a scruffier form, but such is the abstraction of the words that they can be read as reflective of the evolution of the track, creating a sort of Gordian Knot of these texts.

The feeling of melancholy and serenity, which doesn't quite translate into resignation, is all over this record, and perhaps this tone finds its best analog in dreamy late 1960s psychedelic pop along the lines of "Kites" by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound or the early Pink Floyd. Although the sound is highly refined on these tracks, it doesn't mean that the band can't still be rough and ugly when they want to be. The psychotic "Underwater Experiences", one guitar like a siren, the other like an angle grinder, builds until it's fit to burst before giving way to "The Art of Persistence".

"The Art of Persistence" develops into the psychedelic Small Black Reptile, barely recognizable as the same song that appears on 1990's Manscape and which now sounds more like a cousin to the psych-pop of the second track on this record, "German Shepherds". At the close of the album, just when you think you have a handle on it, comes "Over Theirs", which somehow simultaneously sounds like both "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin and Wire.

So Wire retain the sound they've been cultivating for the last few albums and use it to reinvigorate and reinterpret tracks from their various periods. In this, it's both essential for fans and an excellent primer for new listeners. Who knows if they can maintain this rate of output, but this sounds almost as good as the last one, so let's not jinx it.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.


Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.


MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.