The Pixies may have been this year's big reunion story, but no recorded reformation held greater risk for the post-punk generation than Mission of Burma's OnOFFOn. By the time Boston's Burma disbanded in 1982, after four meager years together, the band had pioneered the use of tape loops in rock songs and engineered an angular, densely atonal architecture that would become the foundation for a generation of indie rockers, from Pavement to Unwound. The title of MOB's new album may suggest hesitation, but the switch in question is more like the power button on a time machine. From the staccato chorus of "The Setup" to the crushing weight of the ascending chords in "Absent Mind," the album sounds like a lost recording from 1983. It's not that Mission of Burma disregards the music of the last two decades. Having blueprinted so much of it, they rebuild it according to their own original designs. It's less a return to form than it is the revelation of a shape that was always there, waiting for the rest of us.
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