Wire Credit: Giuliana Covella

Before I first press play on an “aging punks still at it” record, I try to prepare myself for the worst.
Whether the band in question have retained only one original member in a completely retooled lineup (like present-day Gang of Four), or replaced their figurehead (like the Misfits did in the 90s), or awkwardly embraced current musical trends (remember Iggy Pop’s 2003 collaboration with Sum 41?), or pivoted to whatever the fuck “Black Flag” were doing on 2013’s aptly titled What The . . . , the odds of disappointment are high. But I guess I should’ve given experimental postpunk pioneers Wire more credit: their recent 17th album, Mind Hive, can easily sit alongside their best. The London band formed in 1976 and initially split in 1980, but they’ve operated on and off since they first came back together in 1985. Today, their lineup still features three of the four original members. Perhaps it’s due to the amount of genuine Wire DNA at work that Mind Hive has everything you’d want in a Wire record: terse rhythms, robotic vocals, alien melodies, and angular guitar interplay from the band that invented it. “Cactused” sounds like it was pulled off Chairs Missing, while “Off the Beach,” the new record’s poppiest song, would be right at home on 154. This month Wire dropped their second record of the year, an odds ’n’ sods collection called 10:20. This delayed Record Store Day release consists of previously unissued material they’ve accumulated over the past decade—half its tracks are outtakes from 2010’s Red Barked Tree, while the other half are from the Mind Hive sessions. With songs built on motorik Krautrock as well as the band’s signature dreamy postpunk, 10:20 demonstrates how modern-era Wire have managed to stay fresh while honoring their roots. Talk about aging gracefully—they’re doing it right, and really, none of us should be surprised.   v