Wire – Nocturnal Koreans
Sometimes OK is worse than bad.
Nocturnal Koreans, the latest album by legendary English punk and post-punk band Wire, is a perfectly enjoyable record: the sounds are layered, ambient, and, for this band, surprisingly melodic. The music has a nice thrust to it; overall the sounds are fluid and enjoyable, and the title track has a monstrous hook. The studio trickery also gives the album a nice sense of legitimate space. And as expected of a band of this caliber, the general musicianship is top-notch but man, I wish I had more to say about this record.
I feel so disconnected from this album that generating any enthusiastic support is impossible. My biggest issue, in many ways, has nothing to do with the sounds themselves, but with the band who released it. Wire is one of those infamously influential monsters of post-punk and art-rock, whose seminal releases dictated entire genres of music. They are by-turns abrasive and soothing, atonal and melodic. To have a record so profoundly middling is galling, with the knowledge that this band is capable of so much more.
Wire is one of those infamously influential monsters of post-punk and art-rock, whose seminal releases dictated entire genres of music...To have a record so profoundly middling is galling.
My dislike also stems from the album sounding overwhelmingly like a collection of prog-maestro Steven Wilson B-cuts. There is an eerily resonant note of similarity in the sounds this record indulges in and Steven Wilson’s general field of expertise. The vocoded vocals, the breathy, soft-British vocal stylings; it all feels like Steven Wilson. Sounding like somebody else is not particularly endearing, in the long run.
In fairness, this record is a series of songs that were not on Wire’s self-titled release in 2015, so the B-side feeling is, in many ways, intentional. At twenty-six minutes, the record neither transcends, nor sinks into the depths of awful listening: it’s ok. But when the band who releases it is more than that, it’s worse than bad.
Until I’m a Nocturnal Korean.
3,444 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Fu Throwing Stars