High Tension Wires - Welcome New Machine [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

High Tension Wires

Welcome New Machine [12-inch] (2011)


This is High Tension Wires' third album, and in their history they've played in the region of 10 live dates, clearly emphasising where the main thrust of the band is–that of a more studio-based project. Not that this should be held against them, but some music is destined to be heard in a live setting as opposed to just being listened to from a recording. High Tension Wires delivers music that falls into that former category as it has the ability to get your body shaking and moving and would ideally be seen as well as heard whilst clutching a pint of Guinness.

With a lineup that has a stable core (including personnel from bands such as the Riverboat Gamblers and the Marked Men) with some revolving members, this enables High Tension Wires to keep each release fresh sounding, with Welcome New Machine certainly standing out as their pinnacle so far.

The album opens with the high-energy "Get Weird", which is reminiscent of the Hives in their Barely Legal days (especially "A-K-A I-D-I-O-T"), both musically and vocally. In essence, this is punk of the garage variety, with slightly fuzzy vocals, a pounding bass and drum combo, all being driven along by a choppy guitar that tops the whole package off nicely. However, it would be remiss of anyone to imagine that was all that High Tension Wires had in their arsenal. The most prevalent sound I hear on this record is that of the Dickies, with fast-paced, poppy punk songs that race along with regard only for melody and speed–something that takes a lot to be beaten when done well–but a Dickies that have been Anglo-fied in some way.

The songs come fast and furious with "Temporary Gods" and "Lose Your Grip" standing out, but nowhere near as much as my favourite track on the album, "Subprime Love", which really is a blast of poppy punk that takes less than one-and-a-half minutes to eat its way into my consciousness and gets my body responding with a frenzied shaking which resembles me being hit by a massive electric shock. In addition to the Dickies reference, I also occasionally hear a bit of James Newhouse (Hagfish) in the vocals of Mark Ryan, which is no bad thing.

By the time they hit "The Universal People's Church", I am converted totally to this album and, just to add something different to the mix, High Tension Wires manage to invoke an early-era Misfits-like feel to move away from the more poppy songs.

"The Secret of the Hydrogen Bomb" heralds the end of Welcome New Machine and allows the High Tension Wires to go out on a mighty, explosive high, having rocked through a dozen tracks of quality garage punk with enough variety to keep the record sounding fresh throughout.

High Tension Wires has produced a very good record regardless that should keep toes tapping, heads nodding and butts shaking for quite a while.