Editors' pick

Mission of Burma


Editorial Review

CD Review: "The Sound the Speed the Light"

The two songs that open Mission of Burma's "The Sound the Speed the Light" illustrate the band's twin modes: stomping garage-rock and wall-of-noise soundscape. But this impressive new album is the first of the Boston quartet's two-part career -- 1979 to 1983 and 2002 to now -- to spend most of its time in the garage.

The set begins with "1,2,3 Partyy!," which borrows its tune from the Syndicate of Sound's 1966 hit "Little Girl" for a facetious ode to fun: "Drink only when drunken to," commands singer-bassist Clint Conley. The mood then shifts with "Possession," featuring Roger Miller's jittery melody and storming guitar, boosted by the sonic manipulations of mixer Bob Weston.

The band's range results from having three songwriters: Conley and singer-drummer Peter Prescott pen more straightforward material, and Miller's tends to be more abstract. But on "The Sound," the guitarist offers a direct rocker (its title is unprintable) that complements Prescott's pounding "Blunder" and Conley's frisky "SSL 83." (The latter provides the album's title.) Even the album's artiest number, Miller's "Forget Yourself," gets a pop twist from its falsetto chorus. Burma still buries its tunes under swells of noise, but this time the hooks bob pretty closely to the surface.

-- Mark Jenkins, Weekend (Feb. 2010)