You want to love it. You want to be surprised. You don’t want to think that Mission of Burma, for all their musical prescience, for all their political consistency, and for all their anti-commerical power, are old hat. Their new album, Obliterati, doesn’t surpass anything they’ve done, and neither is it worse; unfortunately, it causes me to rethink their value beyond the fact that they sounded so amazingly 1989 in 1981. Because they still sound 1989, for the most part. One listen to the new track “Man in Decline” and you wonder wow, Bad Religion has really ruined Mission of Burma for me.
Things get really out of hand on “Nancy Reagan’s Head.” Good song, but we’re done with that demon and onto bigger, deadlier ones, no? You can’t live on past inventiveness alone. You have to invent or perish. Maybe this is the real revelation of age: After a while, some old stuff is just old.
Jizzfork hypes this album to the level of the second coming of the microchip. It’s certainly better by five songs than MoB’s last effort, but that’s not saying much. The widely blogged tracks “2wice” and “1,001 Pleasant Dreams” are solid, but no update, which might be a total misuse of Roger Miller, a creative guitarist if there ever was one.
A run through the rest of the tracks digs up these highlights:
Mission of Burma – 13
Its got the high drama, the cello, and a newfound resignation that offsets MoB’s now-overwrought angst in a nice way. Wish they’d get this way more often.
Mission of Burma – Good, Not Great
Sounds live. Wonderful descending guitar figure.
Mission of Burma – Donna Sumeria
Around 3:40, they steal a vocal melody from Donna Summer. Really. Weirdest moment of ’06, by far.
And lest we forget the old days:
Mission of Burma – Peking Spring