After Jawbox's amicable split in 1997, frontman J. Robbins and guitarist Bill Barbot teamed up with ex-Government Issue drummer, Pete Moffett, to form Burning Airlines, with Barbot switching from guitar to bass duties. Mission: Control! the band's debut album, brilliantly channels Robbins' pop sensibilities through muscular hardcore riffs with insistent, rhythmic foundations. With its seamless, dynamic shifts, thick riffs and killer melody, "3 Sisters" epitomizes the transition away from Jawbox's clipped, angular post-punk and onto a much more open-ended playing field. Barbot's bass work is a big surprise; Jawbox bassist Kim Coletta always rattled off cool melodies, but Barbot has a sharper and more intuitive sense of placement. His rubber-band lines do the dirty work on the slick "Wheaton Calling," and tug on Robbins' riffs like a magnet in "Pacific 231." Jawbox's music had begun to incorporate a greater range of moods by its final album, and Burning Airlines finds Robbins' melodies highly effective in a variety of settings: insanely catchy punk-pop ("Pacific 231"), furious Nirvana-esque rock ("Sweet Deals on Surgery" and head-spinning opener, "Carnival") and arty dissonance ("I Sold Myself In," the intelligently weird "Crowned"). "Scissoring" is the album's standout cut, with its wicked harmonic riff, bad-ass bassline and thrashy second-half. With rarely a dull or unoriginal moment, Mission: Control! is a very promising start to life after Jawbox.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Cohen