2002 turned out to be a pretty big year for Clint Conley; first he joined forces with his former bandmates from Mission of Burma for a short but rapturously received reunion tour, and then all the more remarkably Conley unveiled the debut album from his new band, Consonant, which marked his first efforts as a songwriter since MoB's demise in 1983. While Roger Miller was a more prolific composer, Conley wrote many of Mission of Burma's most memorable songs, including their biggest "hits" ("Peking Spring," "Academy Fight Song," and "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"), and Consonant's self-titled debut makes it clear he hasn't lost his knack after an 18-year layoff. Make no mistake, Consonant is not Mission of Burma; while Conley has assembled a fine band (including guitarist Chris Brokaw, formerly with Come and Codeine, and drummer Matt Kadane, who's worked with Silkworm and Bedhead), this music lacks the physical power of Burma's best work, and Conley's new music seems to be moving in a direction that's deliberately lighter, artier, and more dynamic than his work of the past (especially the lyrics, most created in collaboration with poet Holly Anderson, which often deal with the bitter side of love and relationships). So if you were hoping for Vs. all over again, Consonant isn't it; it is, however, a set of superbly crafted songs with great melodies, whose clever twists and turns never get in the way of their forward momentum, all performed with intelligence and no small enthusiasm by a crack band. And when the spirit moves Conley, he can still rock out, with "Who Touches You Now?" and "Buckets of Flowers, Porno Mags" as proof. Clint Conley is one of the great unsung architects of indie-rock, and Consonant show that he still has a lot to say, and it's well-worth hearing; this is a fine return to the spotlight for Conley, and one can only hope there's more where this came from.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming