Mission of Burma: Unsound

Mission of Burma, UnsoundMission of Burma: Unsound
In 2008, I saw R.E.M. in Boston. When it came time for Mike Mills to step forward and sing “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville,” he disclaimed the performance by saying “excuse me if I’m a little froggy, I lost my voice screaming along with Mission of Burma last night.” At that point Mission of Burma was on tour promoting the re-releases of Signals, Calls, and Marches and Vs. which means Mills was screaming along with classics like “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” and the oft-covered-by-R.E.M. track, “Academy Fight Song.” And despite breaking up and taking nearly two decades off, Mission of Burma have never missed a beat. If you have not had the pleasure of losing your voice at one of their post-reunion performances, than let their new album, Unsound prove it.
Mission of Burma still play post-punk like it is 1982. You can hear influences of Gang of Four on tracks like “Sectionals in Mourning.” “This is Hi-Fi” sounds like Hex Enduction Hour-era The Fall. But clearly Mission of Burma’s horizons have broadened at least a little since their stripped down 80s days. Tracks like “Add In Unison” and “What They Tell Me” bring trumpet into the mix. While the trumpet does not work as a feature (don’t expect the Doors‘ “Touch Me” here), it does add another texture to the wall-of-noise that Mission of Burma seems to bring consistently throughout Unsound.
However it is that wall-of-noise quality that can be so grating to the listener. “Semi-Pseudo-Sort-Of-Plan” has the makings of a great song but it gets lost under a drone of electric guitars and tape manipulations. “Add In Unison” is a free-jazz mess that seems like had better minds prevailed, would have been left on the cutting room floor.
For the most part on Unsound, good song writing prevails. Roger Miller, Clint Conley, and company still know how to write scream along, fist pumping choruses. There must be some solace in knowing that a new generation of rock stars can lose their voices screaming along to “Opener” or “This Is Hi-Fi.”
Rating: 7.0/10
MP3: Mission of Burma “Sectional in Mourning”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl

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