10:40 AM CDT, July 9, 2012
3 stars (out of 4)
“Forget what you know” are the parting words on Mission of Burma’s latest album, “Unsound” (Fire). Since its inception in 1979, the Boston band has put a premium on pushing forward, its muscular art-punk swatting away nostalgia. So when Clint Conley, Roger Miller and Peter Prescott reunited in 2002, it was not to look back fondly on a classic post-punk sound that influenced countless bands, but to make new music worthy of the legacy.
Few “reunion” bands have ever managed to pull off a second act this credible.
With “Unsound,” Conley, Miller and Prescott have now made four good to great albums since returning from a two-decade hiatus, joined by Chicagoan Bob Weston on tape loops, engineering, and -- for this album, anyway -- trumpet. Burma’s hurly-burly grind remains gloriously in the moment.
In “Semi-Pseudo-Sort-of-Plan,” a rubbery guitar leaps over the bass line and threatens to swallow the song. Distorted cross-cut voices undercut the claims made by “This is Hi-Fi.” A potential anthem, “7’s,” blurs past as the band pushes the melody to the point of collapse. On “Second Television,” the band members can’t contain their excitement as they rip into the opening bars, the drums rolling and tumbling, voices exulting, as if discovering their sound for the first time.
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