Emerging from London's fruitful punk scene in 1976, Wire released three diverse, seminal albums -- the brilliantly terse Pink Flag, the pop opus Chairs Missing, and the atmospherically prog 154 -- before disbanding in 1980. More influential than popular, Wire's early work was then covered, referenced, and distilled by legions of artists, from Big Black and R.E.M. to Elastica and Fischerspooner.
After a moderately successful regrouping from 1985 to 1992, Wire returned to perform a few shows in 2000 and is now back with "Read & Burn 01," the group's first genuinely new material in over a decade. This deliberately short EP -- six tracks in 17 minutes -- is the first in a series of releases via the band's own Pinkflag label. The brief, hard-charging cuts hark back to Wire's punkish material, percolating it through the outfit's later, more avant aesthetics and edgy production. Every song clocks in at fewer than three minutes and features smartly rigid pummeling rhythms, interlocking buzz-guitar riffs, shouted-sung lyrics, and repetitive, looping intensity. All told, "Read & Burn 01" manages to succeed both as a back-to-basics update of the glory days and as a stand-alone release among the current crop of '80s revivalists. Indeed, Wire helped invent that stuff, you know.