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The Obliterati by Mission of Burma

Post-punk codgers reunite, school former students.

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Though they did technically reunite, the term "reunion" should no longer be applicable to Mission of Burma. The Boston band should be viewed as having a Phase 1 and a Phase 2. Earlier in the decade, the arresting force of Mission of Burma's shows put every original-wave punk-rock or post-punk reunion attempt to utter shame -- it was as if you were seeing and hearing a brand-new band that just happened to be heavily influenced by Mission of Burma's first, 1979-1983 run.

Then came the album of (almost) new material -- the step that history has dictated as dependably pathetic in these scenarios. Surprise! It was great. Now for the ultimate coup: This one is better.

The Obliterati never lets up. It's inventive in almost every way allowed within the constraints of guitar-bass-drums post-punk rock. In that sense, it's the record that Sonic Youth have been trying to make for at least 15 years. The first three tracks, "2wice," "Spider's Web," and "Donna Sumeria," make for a triumvirate of signature Mission of Burma power that trumps anything from the old days. The entire album is aggressive, with no stretches of the pensive dirges or balladry that the band has been known for, and manages this without a hint of force or contrived anger. It is not an "angry" album, just a very loud, mid-to-fast-tempo album.

The Obliterati is a rock-and-roll success story: original lineup of men in their 50s blowing away bands half their age that they influenced. -- Andrew Earles

Grade: A

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