The 1970s were an important time for English music, mostly thanks to one word: punk. When Wire’s debut album Pink Flag came along in 1977, critics and listeners alike were blown away, and the band was cited as one of the most interesting groups working in the genre. What no one could know then, but what seems painfully obvious today, is that punk was just a stepping stone for a band destined for even stranger places.The quartet featured Bruce Gilbert on guitar, Robert Gotobed on drums, Graham Lewis on bass guitar, and Colin Newman on vocals. On the band’s newest album, Red Barked Tree, the only difference to that line-up is the absence of Bruce Gilbert. While Gilbert is missed, the fact that thirty-four years has seemingly had no other effect on the group’s power is something to be celebrated. However, it hasn’t been a straight shot from then to now.Wire followed up their debut with Chairs Missing, where they broke so many of the expectations set by their first release. The album featured 15 songs that featured progressive songwriting structure, pop elements, and new keyboard and synthesizer elements. 1979′s 154 saw even more experiments, and an almost equal amount of critical acclaim. Stewart Mason, a critic for Amplifier Magazine, said that these first three albums “expanded the sonic boundaries of not just punk, but rock music in general.” However, these albums were followed by the dissolution of the band, cemented by the release of the 1981 Document and Eyewitness live album. This live show featured a variety of strange new songs, a butchered cover of their popular “12XU,” and several performance art interruptions. The audience was not amused, and afterwards, the band members went their separate ways.Then, in 1985, the group reformed, but announced that they would be playing none of their critically acclaimed previous material. Hiring a Wire cover band called the Ex-Lion Tamers to open for them, the band moved in a more electronic direction on 1987′s The Ideal Copy and 1988′s A Bell is a CupUntil it is Struck. In 1989, they released It’s Beginning to and Back Again, which was mainly a collection of remixed live performances from the last album. The band released three more albums (Manscape, The Drill, and The First Letter), although the last two were released under the name Wir after Gotobed’s departure. After The First Letter, Wir went on hiatus itself.In 1999, the group reformed under its original name, helping to celebrate the end of an era that they’d already played such a large role in. On albums like 2003′s Send and 2008′s Object 47, the band continued to refine their sound, incorporating elements of the alternative rock movement that they had ironically inspired. Red Barked Tree, the group’s 12th studio album, shows the band once again at the height of its experimentation, and poised to reassert its importance in the realm of alternative music.