A band with a ferocious but short-lived output, Black Wire were among the greatest who opposed the 2000’s indie/garage/DIY cluster of clones. They toured with The Cribs during their lifespan, whom they later supported in a one-off reunion show in 2013. Like The Cribs, Black Wire’s discography is light-years from the photocopied groups which flocked amid the post Is This It? era. Their discography comprised their eponymous first album, a slew of singles and an EP. However, a few months ago, a collection of unreleased material was gathered for a second album entitled Confetti. These tracks were originally recorded in 2006, the subsequent year to their debut, with the band releasing it to eager fans exclusively through Bandcamp. Their debut LP contains enough zeal and shouty, punk-tinged vocals caked in brutal riffs, to vividly re-enact their raucous gigs while also affirming them as one of the era’s disregarded stalwarts.
Recorded the subsequent year to Black Wire, Confetti displays many familiar Black Wire inflections, but both albums prove just as unrelenting in their sound. Confetti opens with the punishingly hammering See the Blood. Originally released in 2007, the track’s ominous and encompassing energy make it Black Wire’s unequivocally best track. Refusing to relinquish it’s sonic grip on the listener, the track finishes with a jaunty and undulating keyboard part. With See the Blood especially, their music retains a modernity thirteen years on.
On Black Wire, the drum machine’s pull is distinct throughout. With Dan Wilson on vocals, Si McCabe on guitars, Tom Greatrorex on bass, and drummer Danny Prescott, their sound also enjoys disco-y flavourings of a rackety keyboard and drum machine. The drum machine’s mechanical underbelly becomes repetitive occasionally, but with further listens the repetition evolves into a continuously addictive core rhythm. Wilson strikes a perfect balance between his natural vocal style and assorted coarse screams, or the intense whine on Attack! Attack! Attack! The bass is remarkably groove-laden, as it becomes impossible not to follow its burly meander throughout the album, especially on Broken Back and The Face. On the rollicking Very Gun, the chorus swan dives into artillery-like instrumentation (akin to it’s title): with a fusillade of percussion and guitars amid Wilson’s strangled words. Also among the album’s track list is the single Hard to Love, Easy to Lay. Even upon the first listen, it is unsurprising that this single sold all copies within a week. Here, Dan Wilson’s bombastic epithets grab wholeheartedly, while the other members’ cherubic harmonies billow the track to refreshing heights. The squealing lead guitar, recited throughout, is icing on the scuzzy garage cake. God of Traffic is another huge highlight of their first album.
Confetti has tracks like Ungodly Hour, with it’s outro of spectral moans, where Black Wire’s backing vocals are even more distinct and eerie. The fantastically eerie tone of the band is brought about by this and the albums’ lyrical content. Crime Scene’s heady, sweeping vocal of its title, sees the second half of the vocal spill over onto the next line in a beautifully clumsy way. The infectiously scratchy alternated strums from guitarist Si McCabe leap into another realm from their previous record. The already enthralling rhythm guitar power in Black Wire’s Promote the Happy Hours is doubled with Confetti’s Authentic Things and Hung Up. The latter is a spectacle of garage-y heat, with the guitar wrestling manically with a penetrating bassline, while violent shouts of “HA!” echo throughout. Here too, the bass parts are likely to be the listener’s highlight, irrespective of taste. Confetti is masterfully crafted from start to finish, concluding with the sprawling Hallelujah‘s grandiose vocals passing over like a dark tide.
Listen to the band’s debut here, or get their second album Confetti, here. Check out See the Blood below.