A joyful reimagining
“Extras” albums are rarely an essential venture. Their primary purpose is to be snapped up by the band’s most feverish fans and then forever displayed beside an underused turntable. At first glance, this could’ve been the fate of 10:20. Released as a record full of reimagined releases and tracks that never quite made it onto an album, there were never notably high expectations for this particular record. That it came out on the overly corporatized Record Store Day made this release all the more suspect. Thankfully, 10:20 doesn’t just subvert these expectations, it asserts itself as a worthy entry into the canon of Wire thanks to intelligent interpretations of older tracks, and loose tracks that absolutely deserved an official release.
Due to the methods of assembly, 10:20 boasts a colorful array of influences and styles. Despite this, the record flows together wonderfully, creating a compelling journey from start to finish. Tracks such as “Boiling Boy” and “German Shepherds” remind people of an earlier, more stripped back version of the pop punk sound. Enigmatic lyrics such as “I saw three dogs fucking, there was a man on the end, squaring the circle” conjure strange images for the mind to focus on during the driving instrumentals. These tracks lead to noisier, more fuzzed out tracks such as “The Art of Persistence” and “Underwater Experiences.” These two, and particularly “Underwater Experiences,” abandon traditional style for a more in-your-face approach. Thanks to the excellent sequencing on the record, these stylistic differences present themselves as an evolution rather than an inconsistency.
The final three tracks are ultimately the most memorable. “Small Black Reptiles,” which was last found on their 1990 album Manscape, has undergone a significant revision. Gone is the lengthy intro, and replacing it is a woozy, reverb-driven track with significantly more pop appeal. “Wolf Collides” and “Over Theirs” help to balance each other out. The former utilizes far less force, and becomes something of a pop track by the time it concludes. Conversely, “Over Theirs” fits more comfortably into a progressive genre sphere, and even incorporates grunge and new wave elements to keep listeners on their toes. The length of the track flies by as the repetition and shifts in mood and sound balance each other with razor sharp precision.
As the second album from Wire this year, one could be forgiven for accidentally passing over this record. However, those who are looking for something a little more varied than what Mind Hive provided should give 10:20 a listen. The recent remasters and distinct eras of music contained within this record turn it into a wonderful time capsule that is as enjoyable to listen to as it is to dissect.