Inspired by the burgeoning UK punk scene, Wire are often cited as one of the more important rock groups of the 1970s and 1980s. Critic Stewart Mason wrote, "Over their brilliant first three albums, Wire expanded the sonic boundaries of not just punk, but rock music in general."
Wire are arguably a definitive art punk or post-punk ensemble, mostly due to their richly detailed and atmospheric sound, often obscure lyrical themes, and, to a lesser extent, their Situationist political stance. The group exhibited a steady development from an early raucous punk style (1977's Pink Flag) to a more complex, structured sound involving increased use of guitar effects and synthesizers (1978's Chairs Missing and 1979's 154). The band gained a reputation for experimenting with song arrangements throughout its career.