The Mission - Another Fall From Grace

Posted by vibrations on 03-11-16

Prompted by the lukewarm fan response to their reunion album a few years back, Wayne Hussey has dragged back The Mission’s sound right back to the band’s origins – mid-eighties Leeds, when ice was dry and guitars were swirly. A deliberate move to position this album somewhere between his work on The Sisters of Mercy’s ‘First and Last and Always’ and his own band’s debut, ‘God’s Own Medicine’ would, at first consideration, seem a pointless exercise were it not for the undeniable conclusion that this is the most enjoyable album from the band in years.

 

There are many pleasures to be had here – not least Hussey’s outrageous ability to plagiarise himself throughout. For those of us who should know better but still obsess over the original Sisters’ split, some of these moments are hilarious. He hasn’t just slathered ornate goff twelve string over a ‘Dominion’ steal on lead single ‘Met-Amor-Phosis’ has he? Oh yes he has. The album doesn’t really open with Craig Adams’ bass rumbling through a coda that’s almost identical to The Sisters of Mercy’s cover of ‘Emma’ and end with something akin to that same band’s ‘Afterhours’, does it? Yup. Julianne Reagan on backing vocals? Of course. Even if you can’t forgive this kind of thing (and I most definitely can) the sheer energy and pop sensibility on display here rescues it from redundancy.

 

Hussey’s always had a knack for a melody and tunes you can hum and the album’s full of them. ‘Tyranny of Secrets’ certainly has that 1985 alternative disco staple feel to it and I can already imagine the human pyramids forming when they perform ‘Bullets and Bayonets’ on tour. The soppy, Beatley ‘Never’s Longer Than Forever’ is something that, despite every fibre of my body screaming that it’s just not good for me, is a song I’ve come to adore. And, if the M62 guitar sound is your particular cup of Blue Nun then you should be reassured that throughout the album, Hussey’s twelve string flourishes and lead guitarist, Simon Hinkler’s textures sound sublime.

 

Lyrically, the album explores ideas of ageing and change. Somewhat ironic given the overall feel of the album. Mercifully, Hussey seems to have tempered the sub Marion Zimmer Bradley-isms and the libidinous pleadings of previous efforts. I wouldn’t want anyone to make the same mistake I once did. Just to be plain – if you directly quote Mission lyrics as an attempt at ‘sexy talk’ early on in a relationship, you will be laughed out of the bedroom. Years later, my partner still ridicules me for this.

 

I don’t want to make any grand claims for this record. Essentially, this is preposterous and silly music from a preposterous and silly band. But, within these confines, there is charm, melody and beauty. I once read a fierce criticism of The Mission that described them as a ‘disgusting mixture of Led Zeppelin, Yes and Echo and the Bunnymen.’ Think about that for a moment. Aren’t there occasions when that is exactly the greatest band that could possibly exist? Certainly when the conditions are right. And, after a few beers, down among a group of shirtless men writhing in a way not seen since the last Californian Bear convention, as The Mission blast these songs out on tour, I will be bellowing out every single word of them. Then, and possibly only then, will it all make perfect sense.

Alan Stewart