mission of burmathe sound, the speed, the light
  • THURSDAY, OCTOBER 08, 2009

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When they surprisingly reunited back in 2002, Mission of Burma provided their aging fan boys with a thrilling slice of lackadaisical, nostalgia; the kind that seemed to suggest punk's not dead, it just has grey hair. Seven years later - an interesting timeframe in that Clint Conley, Roger Miller, Peter Prescott, and Bob Weston's second go around has now lasted longer than their original spat in the eighties - the band have returned with a new album titled The Sound The Speed The Light (Matador). Though embracing the crusty, hastily recorded quality of their initial releases, the much beloved Boston band fail to rekindle the original spirit and energy of their youth. As a result, the sound, the speed, and the light has started to flicker, rendering the band's latest effort little more than a fuzzy recreation of something that was once important.

From the onslaught of adolescent opener "1,2,3 Partyy!", MoB slide hopelessly off course. Providing step by step instructions for letting loose ("1. Don't look at anyone. 2. Drink only when drunken to. 3. Plan out your drink then go out and drink your plan"), the boys rub up dangerously close to fogy, "back in my day", sentiment. "Possession" is as unkempt as they come; a fragmented, unpolished riff rocker that sounds like a bunch of high school burnouts slopping about in their parent's garage. I remind you, these are not teenagers. "Blunder" is an unfortunate title for an unfortunate song that just...sort...of...drags. And mellower tunes like "Feed" and "Forget Yourself" are...well, forgettable.

MoB do almost steer towards a bright moment in "After the Rain"; the most anthemic track of the eleven songs offered here. Here, MoB give reason to squeeze your eyes tight and imagine the band working this one live in the flesh. Still, production falls short, restricting potential and power in favor of something more archaic...which, by the way, is probably the biggest problem with the album. Sure, MoB have stayed true to an aesthetic they themselves helped carve out all those years ago. They are, after all, a bunch of stubborn, old punks. But I can't help but wonder what a more modern tinge could do for this band. The Sound, The Speed, The Light...it's mostly all lost in the muck. - David Pitz

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