8 of 10 thought this review was well written
As a follow-up to Jawbox, the hook filled rock of Burning Airlines debut LP Mission: Control!
shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise to followers of J. Robbins and Bill Barbot’s previous band. Even Jawbox’s most formative recordings demonstrate Robbin’s knack for pop melody, a trait that only seemed to accentuate with each new release. The result was albums like Novelty
and For Your Own Special Sweetheart
; dissonant post hardcore tempered with almost crooned vocals and a sweeter melodic payoff than many of their contemporaries. Mission: Control!
marked a fairly logical progression of that aesthetic, and if you’re anything like me, an enjoyable one.
One of the things that makes this record a success is the bands ability to wring the most from their three-piece format. With the ragged edges of past material replaced by a more polished mix that allows each note to ring out unhindered, the emphasis here is on tight instrumental interplay that manages to be creative without sacrificing instant accessibility. It’s pop rock with more finesse than most, as unorthodox guitar lines converge into big, all consuming choruses and songs pack a variety of transitions into their short running times. Barbot’s nimble basslines and the showy yet tasteful drumming of Peter Moffett are also prominent as all three members take key roles.
touches on a variety of sounds as it progresses, from the urgent harmonic riffing of “Scissoring” through to the slow burning, reverb soaked “3 Sisters” and pure pop of “The Escape Engine”. All these stylistic diversions are handled deftly and despite a dip in quality towards the end of the album, there’s a sure-footedness here that is without doubt the product of years of combined experience from three veteran musicians. Above all, it was a further refinement of J. Robbins songwriting, who now seems more content to sit behind the boards than release new music. Mission: Control!
is both a reminder of his capabilities and one of the more infectious albums to emerge from D.C. in the late 90s.