Ending a long period of silence with the 2016 self-titled EP and the 2018 A\VOID album, 51 Peg entered into a new era of the band’s development. Blending elements of synthpop, industrial, alternative and progressive rock, the quartet’s sound has been a constantly evolving mélange of styles driven by complex arrangements, tight production, and above all melodic songwriting. With this new Cut the Wire EP, the band continues to scream defiance against conformity and capitulation, the opening title track skittering and strutting with Tim Phillips’ rhythmic synths and Brian Fasani’s forceful drums underscoring Carlo Pizarro’s howling guitars and Jeff Sargent’s impassioned vocals. Similarly, “Thread” follows with pulsating electronic atmospheres that complement Sargent’s lush vocal harmonies striking the right blend of accessible melody and roaring aggression, the lyric of “Turn your back on conformity, but do it just like this” proving to be one of the most memorable in all of 51 Peg’s catalog. Finally, we have “Alternate Scene,” and while it doesn’t specifically follow the current nostalgic trends of synthwave and post-punk, the atmospheric synth tones bear a cinematic quality that wouldn’t sound out of place in that genre… that is, until the groaning alt. metal synth-and-guitar refrain blasts through the speakers to give way to an irresistibly anthemic chorus that reminds this writer of something Peter Gabriel might have written on any of his earlier records. Especially notable on this track is the interweaving of subtle but powerful keyboard and guitar leads, as well as Fasani’s simply excellent drumming, each given a moment to shimmer and shine in the mix. As to be expected from 51 Peg, the production quality on Cut the Wire measures up to anything in the so-called big leagues, and the same can be said of the musicianship. To say that longtime fans will be pleased would be an understatement, but those who have been unaware of the band up to now would do well to treat themselves to the Cut the Wire EP; it’s simply proof that 51 Peg is only getting better with each new outing.