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Mission Of Burma - ONoffON (Cover Artwork)

Mission Of Burma

Mission Of Burma: ONoffONONoffON (2004)
Matador Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5


Contributed by: LevitateMeLevitateMe
(others by this writer | submit your own)

When I checked out punknews.org's best of 2004 lists there was not one that I completely agreed with. Not one on its own, but most of my picks were present on somebody's list. Take some Jesse, a little Adam, and a pinch of Scott, and you had just about all of my picks. There was one glaring omission.
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When I checked out punknews.org's best of 2004 lists there was not one that I completely agreed with. Not one on its own, but most of my picks were present on somebody's list. Take some Jesse, a little Adam, and a pinch of Scott, and you had just about all of my picks. There was one glaring omission, however. Not to be found on any list, not even getting an honorable mention was Mission Of Burma's brilliant reunion piece ONoffON.

I'll say it right from the get go: this is their best work ever. Yes, it's better than the frenzied Vs. and yes, it beats the amazing Signals, Calls and Marches. Not easily, not by far, but, when push comes to shove, this is their best album. How could the best album by one of the best post-punk bands ever get so obviously overlooked? Well, they are Mission Of Burma, so they're used to it. Outside of music critics and indie rock snobs, this album didn't even make a hairline crack in the windshield of popular music. Some things never change.

Twenty-two years later, the terrific songwriting, inventiveness, and energy is still there, but they've also added some interesting, smoother, new elements to their style. The album opens with the explosion that is "The Setup." The song is classic Mission Of Burma and it features a great fuzzy, squealing guitar solo midway through, a similar effect to the one often used by the Pixies' Joey Santiago on their 2004 reunion tour and Warren Zevon tribute song. "The Enthusiast" would be my favorite track on the album. It's a roaring, powerful post-punk masterpiece with one of the greatest intros in recent musical history and a razor-sharp hook. "Wounded World" is easily the most sinister track, with its pounding waves of drumming and sizzling charge of feedback noise all emphasizing lyrical bombs such as: "If you laugh at my jokes / You will pay for it / When your friends are enemies / You'll be sorry." A new version of "Dirt," an early eighties B-side, keeps all of its original toughness, but with all the kinks worked out it sounds so much better. And "Playland," another of the three revamped old songs ("Hunt Again" being the other), is this album's "Outlaw."

There is more diversity in the songs on this album alone than in the rest of the band's discography combined. The brilliant "Nicotine Bomb" takes flimsy country and infuses it with some much-needed muscle. The mellow "Prepared" is soft vocals, a string section, and simple chords making up a very pretty near-ballad. Staying on that quieter path, the intriguing "Falling" features backing vocals by Tanya Donnelly, but it's only really interesting during its noisy instrumental parts. The album's midsection follows this trend and at times almost loses your attention. Almost. And that takes me to one of my opinions on Mission Of Burma: they sound better when they're at their hardest and fastest. If they put out an album full of "Setup"s, "Enthusiast"s, and "Playland"s maybe they'd get the respect they deserve. Despite that fact, they're still better than just about every band around.

ONoffON is a complex work and a staggering accomplishment. It preserves all of their past power and lyrical themes, while breaking new ground and being as cutting edge as ever. Mission Of Burma is back, and better than ever.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Richard Hell and The Voidoids - Blank GenerationDismemberment Plan - Emergency & IThe Clash - London CallingThe Clash - The ClashFugazi - 13 SongsBad Brains - Bad BrainsNOFX - The DeclineRites of Spring - End on EndNation of Ulysses - Play Pretty for BabyThe Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground and Nico

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (February 24, 2005)

Their cover of Class War is awesome too. It's on the vinyl version of the album and onCd on the Dirt single.

LevitateMe (February 23, 2005)

Oh I wouldn't have said anything nice

Anonymous (February 23, 2005)

Wow, I feel special.

-Chinatown

LevitateMe (February 22, 2005)

Chinatown, I actually remembered that this was #1 on your list and I almost mentioned it in the review, but then I didn't. I spend way too much time on this site

Anonymous (February 22, 2005)

When Moby covers you and you still have credibility, you're doing something right.

Joe

ZDP (February 22, 2005)

"give them a few years and some research, they will find thier way to band like Mission Of Burma, Drive Like Jehu, Wire and so on."

That's exactly how it worked with me and Jehu. I started at RFTC and worked my way back.

Anonymous (February 22, 2005)

I saw MOB open for the Pixies a few months back...they played this one song that blew me away...it was a power pop/rock anthem with a huge chant chorus. Anyone know what that song might be? What album?

It's probably "The Enthusiast," (track 3) off of this very album.

OnOffOn was my favorite record of 2004. I give it a perfect score.

-Chinatown

boldredletters (February 22, 2005)

whoa whoa whoa, it's good, but nothing will ever touch "signals."

Anonymous (February 22, 2005)

"I saw MOB open for the Pixies a few months back...they played this one song that blew me away...it was a power pop/rock anthem with a huge chant chorus. Anyone know what that song might be? What album?"

It was probally either "that's when i reach for my revolver" or "academy fight song". Definatley pick up the signals, calls, and marches EP.

Anonymous (February 22, 2005)

This difficult for a lot of kids, give them a few years and some research, they will find thier way to band like Mission Of Burma, Drive Like Jehu, Wire and so on. Or maybe I'm just hoping for that. This is a great album, not sure if its better than Vs. but its deffinitly more easy access.

_Sexy_Pants_ (February 22, 2005)

I thought this album was trash. I'd rather hear Vs. any day

Anonymous (February 22, 2005)

I saw MOB open for the Pixies a few months back...they played this one song that blew me away...it was a power pop/rock anthem with a huge chant chorus. Anyone know what that song might be? What album?

Anonymous (February 22, 2005)

what is the best mission of burma album 2 start with?

Anonymous (February 22, 2005)

This album is the joint kids. Get in on it.

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