Record Exchange Boise

Artist: Mission Of Burma
Format: CD
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"Punk reunions used to make for great live shows and dire comeback LPs. Remember the Gang of Four? Television? Blondie? But OnoffOn is such a clear follow-up to 1982's Vs., this Boston trio's only real previous LP, it could have been secretly recorded twenty years ago. Singer/guitarist Roger Miller's odd chording is a dead giveaway, even before it meets the elastic snap-back of Peter Prescott's drumming and Clint Conley's fast yet bulky bass runs. They've got all the aggression and chaotic elements of their great American punk predecessors, and you can hear spots where they hit the same highs as H"usker D"u. But Mission of Burma's squarely a post-punk group, with unpredictable arrangements, irregular ebbs and flows, and atonal chord shadings. And the return of old producer Ric Harte to assist talented ""fourth member""/engineer Bob Weston ensured that this would click.

The ambitious songwriting is perhaps the biggest surprise of all: 16 songs by all three writers. Conley may not have a ""Mica"" or ""Academy Fight Song"" in him, but the humming ""Hunt Again,"" the slow-burn of ""What We Really Were,"" the gentle, cello-laden ""Prepared,"" and especially ""Dirt"" (formerly available only on their farewell live LP, The Horrible Truth) are all potent. Miller has stepped up the most; ""The Set-Up"" is his answer to Vs.'s starter, ""Secrets,"" and the super-rhythmic ""Wounded World,"" the smoldering ""Into the Fire,"" and his own remake of an oldie, the furious off-beat jackhammer, ""Playland"" are all great. Prescott chips in with intensity on the sing-shout of political distaste ""Fake Blood,"" the power-thumping ""The Enthusiast,"" and ""Absent Mind,"" which closes out with a vicious circular double-time guitar lead that decays into wicked distortion and confusion. Because this band once opened a thread no one ever really followed, they sound as unprecedented now as they did then, a genre branch all to themselves.

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