1988, Music

A Bell Is a Cup Until It Is Struck (1988) by Wire

I am a long-time fan of both Pink Flag and especially Chairs Missing but have somehow never managed to get to any of their other material. Having not heard their first album after they reunited either, this is a surprise.

I admire any band’s dedication to not live in the past, the issue is I don’t always like it. And certainly, with the first listen, I definitely and a WTF moment. “Did Wire sell out?” I wondered, as so many likely wondered when they released either this or the previous record.

But if change is going to be for the better, it doesn’t always have to be towards the artier/weirder end of the spectrum. I certainly thought it did when I was younger, but at this point in my life I have encountered so many instances of bands trying to get weirder, or doing something different, just for the sake of it, without great success, that I no longer believe that to be true.

And the thing is, though you could sort of claim that Wire have gone all synthpop here, and somehow “sold out,” the result is certainly better that just about anything else of this particular style of music (whatever it is) from the 1980s.

For one thing, their sense of melody is still very strong, and they are able to present that in interesting ways, even if those ways feel very much of their time, instead of ahead of it.

But they also continue to have great lyrics, and their lyrics are significantly better than most of the bands you might lump them in with, making whatever this music is.

I like this, though it is extremely ’80s, and I find myself once again thinking I really need to listen to everything this fascinating band – remember, they were once punks! – has put out. I really ought to get around to that.


All tracks written by Wire.

  1. “Silk Skin Paws” 4:53
  2. “The Finest Drops” 5:01
  3. “The Queen of Ur and the King of Um” 4:03
  4. “Free Falling Divisions” 3:39
  5. “It’s a Boy” 4:26
  6. “Boiling Boy” 6:22
  7. “Kidney Bingos” 4:12
  8. “Come Back in Two Halves” 2:43
  9. “Follow the Locust” 4:22
  10. “A Public Place” 4:30
  • Bruce Gilbert: Electric Guitar
  • Robert Gotobed: Drums
  • Graham Lewis: Bass, Vocals
  • Colin Newman: Vocals, Guitar

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