Mission of Burma CD review [Matador]

Music Reviews
Mission of Burma CD review [Matador]
Apr 24, 2007, 04:11



Have you ever had a sweet memory of a beloved band? They were your favorite when you were that uncool pockmarked middle schooler, and they knew. Every song had direct correlation to things in your life, and one of your all-time biggest wishes was to simply get the chance to be in the same room with them, to watch them play. Then, they did the unthinkable; they broke up. Oh sure, they kept playing their own music, but they robbed you of yours.

What if, nearly thirty years later, you could call a do-over? Would you be the adult you, with adult expectations and tastes, or would you revert to the seventh grader, sulking in the corner of the room with your worn out Taang! T-shirt on, screaming for your favorite band to sing your favorite song?

Most people think that they'll be the adult, but the reality more likely falls to the middle school sector.  You, as an audience member, want to experience what you didn't get the first time around. You want the band to look exactly the same as they did when you had their poster up on your bedroom wall. You want them to play the same instruments, wear the same clothes, and sing the same songs. But they've been living, growing, aging, and playing this whole time. You have been craving the impossible. Yet somehow, your wish was granted.

What now?

Well, for starters, don't toss out that beat up copy of Vs. just yet. I'm not sure how or when it happened, but somewhere along the way from your bedroom wall to critic darlings, Burma have become a sort of Bob Dylan-like organism; they are great, it is reasoned, simply because they are still playing. None dare to speak of songs on a new album that they don't particularly care for, and those lacking romantic memories of the past don't understand what all the fuss is about. I'm not discounting their talents. They are a diverse group, with interesting songwriting on their own and in collaboration. You just don't really get to hear a whole lot of that on The Obliterati.

There is a sonic loss on this record. The first song, “2wice,” sounds nearly downright unmastered and flat. “Good, Not Great,” sounds like a demo recorded in a rehearsal space of an amazing song.  Can someone please tell me if “Donna Sumeria” and “Let Yourself Go” are jokes? They sound like parodies of Burma tunes, and yet, here they are, nestled into the mix. Are those bongos on “The Mute Speaks Out?” What is that about? Yet, next to those tunes lie “Careening With Conviction,” which sounds like the great lost PiL single, and the sheer potential of “Good, Not Great.” Where is Rick Harte?  He could have fixed the deficiencies in the sound.

Can we please give Mission of Burma the time, resources and above all patience to make the really mindblowing record I know they can concoct? Put them on a plane to somewhere that's not the northeast. Let's see what they can do.  This sounds like it's just a warm-up. [Matador]

-Amanda Nichols

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