The Mission UK

The Brightest Light [Deluxe Edition]

(CD - End Records #3362)

Review by

For 20 years, Wayne Hussey, the Mission's frontman and chief songwriter, was the only founding member of this U.K. gothic mainstay. On the long-awaited "proper" follow-up to 2007's God Is a Bullet, he is (re)joined by original bassist Craig Adams and guitarist Simon Hinkler, with new drummer Mike Kelly. Though the set was produced by David M. Allen (the Cure, Sisters of Mercy), it has little in common with the band's classic records such as God's Own Medicine and Carved in Sand. Instead, this is a stripped-down, big rumbling rock record, full of shadows, corners, and elusive feints. It commences with the sprawling nine-minute "Black Cat Bone," the Mission's version of an electric blues tune, complete with lyrics appropriated from Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, Tommy Johnson, and Muddy Waters. "Everything But the Squeal" follows, hustling an old Cult riff and injecting it with enough power to claim it as their own. "Drag," fueled by Adams' throbbing bass and Hinkler's blazing, wrangling guitar, is a garagey post-glam boogie. It's pure biker rock à la Zodiac Mindwarp. "Sometimes the Brightest Light Comes from the Darkest Place" is shot through with Hussey's sense of hooky melody, and beautifully weighted by Kelly's tom-tom-fueled pummeling. There are other songs here that don't seem so far from the band's roots. The textured post-psych in "The Girl in a Furskin Rug," the ringing gothic pop in "Born Under a Good Sign," and the hard-edged gothic rock on the album's best track, "Swan Song," fully acknowledge their own history (as well as their enduring debt to Led Zeppelin III and Physical Graffiti). Elsewhere, there are positively bizarre stops: the sad country-rock in "When the Trap Clicks Shut Behind Us" and the cheery British roots rock in "Just Another Pawn in Your Game" both suggest Rod Stewart and the Faces circa Every Picture Tells a Story, complete with mandolins, acoustic and electric guitars, upright piano, and a Dylanesque harmonica. While The Brightest Light may puzzle the band's most conservative fans, it will more than likely delight most others. On its own merits, this loopy collection is well written and executed. It finds Hussey in excellent voice, and his bandmates playing with an inspiration and raw sense of freedom they've never before exhibited in a studio. [The Deluxe Edition contains a bonus disc with two extra songs, "I'm Fallin' Again" and "The Long Way 'Round Is Sometimes the Only Way Home," as well as six Hussey demos of album tracks.]

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