Don’t call it a comeback. Even if Wire has succeeded in the “art of stopping,” as the lead-off track on the brand-new Send has it, the 27-year-old art-punk quartet has always found ways to keep going. Guitarist Bruce Gilbert and bassist Graham Lewis spent the post-first-breakup early ’80s making records as Dome and Duet Emmo, then joined singer and guitarist Colin Newman in the post-second-breakup early ’90s as Wir. So when Newman sings, “the road ahead looks quite uncertain” on the disc-closing “99.9,” he just comes across as a wisenheimer. One listen to the band’s first full-length since its 2000 reunion and it’s clear that if Newman doesn’t have a map, then somebody else here does. This time out, the course is to cover all phases of Wire’s music: Send ranges from the Pink Flag-ish minimalism of “Comet” to the 154-ish prog of “Mr. Marx’s Table” to the Ideal Copy-ish dark wave of “You Can’t Leave Now.” So forget the early stuff crystallized in your mind as the band’s definitive sound and remember that Wire has changed constantly over the years. Yet Send is still problematic: too shellacked-up to be punk, too rocked-out to be electronica, and too distant-feeling to match even the band’s mid-’80s material. “Half Eaten,” for example, fuses ancient house dynamics and four-on-the-floor drum machinery to heavily processed post-grunge riffing, resulting in an ideal straight-to-DVD chase-scene soundtrack. In other words, loud ‘n’ fast enough, but hardly worth getting your hands dirty. Indeed, much of the album would benefit from a healthy scrubbing. Buried beneath all the robo-industrial production, “In the Art of Stopping” and “Read and Burn” are both fantastic elbow-chord rockers that best all our current postpunk options. It’s just too bad that Wire 2003 sounds less like the guys who made those options possible and more like any old bunch of musicians. —Brent Burton