The Ideal Copy
Never a band to take a nostalgic approach, Wire's reformation in the mid-'80s began with a 'year zero' methodology, which meant no relying on old material. The Ideal Copy also shows how the band's approach to the studio fell under this idea; drum machines and electronics replace much of the live instrumentation, and samples are in evidence throughout. Despite this, the combination of Newman's melodic pop and Lewis and Gilbert's penchant for intelligent noise loops and odd narratives ensure that the bulk of the material is still engaging.
The busy overlaid rhythms of Ahead provide the obvious highlight of the album and hide a risqué lyric: 'I remember making the body search/That it was nothing, but enough for a head.' The repetitious Over Theirs brings to mind the clanging riffs of Reuters and the jaunty Cheeking Tongues provides a bit of light, punk-like escapism. In each case the sound is clean, perhaps even stark; narratives are delivered with cold precision and the music is almost machine-like.
The CD reissue usefully contains a number of extra tracks, including the entire Snakedrill EP, which was the band's first recorded output in over five years. The style is similar to The Ideal Copy although, if anything, the material is better. A Serious of Snakes is an infectious track that centres on a relentless beat and striking guitar loop. Combined with the bizarre narrative, it becomes almost hypnotic, something the next track, Drill, takes to the extreme. This one-chord drone is totally engrossing and perhaps proves the old chiché that less is more
This collection is very different from the EMI work but contains a similar energy and diversity and is still recognisably 'Wire'. The rhythmically busy Ahead and dissonant Over Theirs are worth the admission on their own. The fact that Snakedrill, an alternative version of Ahead, and three live takes are also included makes this a varied release that is exceptional value for money.
Craig Grannell (1998)