We all know the story by now, but it bears repeating now that we’re on album number four in Mission of Burma’s impressive second act. Taking a 20-year hiatus would be enough to upend most bands—or, at the very least, render them former shells of themselves—but Mission of Burma continues to make some truly glorious noise on Unsound.
By today’s standards this new collection might not come off as particularly groundbreaking, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a big and ferocious ball of ear candy. And there aren’t many bands out there so ably using their gray matter to make the kind of anthemic rock that perpetually dances in the red. Like all Burma records, Unsound is not a product of its time—they may be from Boston, but they might as well be from another planet.
Things get otherworldly quickly on “Semi-Pseudo-Sort-of Plan,” whose guitars bend and break over the song’s stinging bass line. The guitars throughout are massive, with special attention given to the equally powerful rhythm section. The interplay between Roger Miller and Clint Conley is as apparent as ever. For every one of Miller’s barked, herky-jerky songs (“Opener”) there’s a go-for-the-throater from Conley (“7’s” is easily the best of his bunch here). But it’s far from their show as Bob Weston of Shellac lends his own songs, as well as trumpet on “What They Tell Me” and “Add In Unison.”
The members of Mission of Burma continue to outthink and outplay bands half their age. More impressive is the fact that the band has yet to take a misstep (of course, having a 20-year gap in your career is a surefire way to avoid such a thing). But like any veterans worth their salt, Mission of Burma smartly take their time with each record—and Unsound is the sound of a band that takes the same painstaking approach as they did three decades ago. Maybe there’s a fountain of youth after all.