Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
A bracing antidote to the ’80s- were-fun nostalgia epidemic, Totally Wired showcases stalwarts of the post-punk era, those heady days when D.I.Y. was a battle cry rather than a marketing gimmick. These anti-pop bands—mostly Brits like the Gang of Four, the Fall, the Slits, and the Raincoats—rarely made the charts, but they were college-radio staples for most of the decade. Though this compilation boasts some relative rarities, like the blistering “You,” a B-side by Delta 5, and the Fall’s amphetamine anthem, “Totally Wired,” the lineup mostly reads like a campus playlist circa ’82: Au Pairs’ “Come Again,” Magazine’s “The Light Pours Out of Me,” Gang of Four’s “To Hell With Poverty,” and Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which has held up remarkably well over the years. A few clunkers (Bauhaus’ “Kick in the Eye” and Shriekback’s grating “Lined Up”) sound as dated as a Flock of Seagulls hairdo. But, surprisingly, it is the handful of American groups that exemplify the most annoying excesses of the era’s arty music. Pylon’s “Feast on My Heart” is further proof that the Athens scene should have never left Georgia; Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never” is hollow and unconvincing; and Urban Verbs’ “Acceleration” is a rhythmless mishmash of bad Talking Heads references and truly silly synthesizer prattle.