The new EP by Chicago-based Man Fighting Bear (“Three Songs”) sees them sustaining the moody vein of their terrific 2015 album “Waiting” and they continue to impress. While “Waiting” had the vibe of a post-John Cale Velvet Underground mixed with King Crimson and Nick Cave, “Three Songs” reminds me more of “154”-era Wire, especially on “Sand Turns to Glass” and “Stars Align.” Equally melodic and edgy, there’s a sense of eloquent dread permeating these songs that remarkably never lapses into nihilism. “Three Songs” oftentimes takes you to the edge of despair, but always holds out hope for something better. “Three Songs” is emotional without being maudlin, realistic without being cynical, and hopeful without being naive. It’s tremendously mature and very cool. Dave says “Check it out!”
There’s a consistent theme running through the first three albums by Wire. It’s a sense that you’re in a situation that’s fundamentally f–ked-up and you’re suddenly realizing that there’s no escape … that you’re being sucked into some inevitable horrific conclusion. The terror isn’t always explicitly spelled out, but it sounds like the worst “Oh s-t!” moment of your life.
This particular song is the lead-off track from their third album, 1979’s “154,” the least heralded of their first three albums, but one that has grown on me tremendously over the years. As much as I revere “Chairs Missing” (the second one), “154” feels colder, more despairing. My favorite post-punk band, even besting Public Image Ltd. and Joy Division.