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Album Review

It's not just that the Mission changed their sound, it's that they changed it numerous times on one album. For bands in the goth-pop genre, 1992 was kind of the breaking point: in England, shoegazer and baggy had changed everything, and in the U.S., Nirvana and grunge added a whole new barrier to Brits trying to break into the States. Some acts like All About Eve tried shoegazer, and to a certain degree, it worked, while others would embrace their Englishness full-on or would turn to America and turn up the angst. The Mission, for some strange reason, went for a little bit of everything. "Never Again," the opener on Masque, sounds like the Mission really trying to go big-league '90s U2-Achtung Baby style, but ending up a bit more like a dance remix of themselves than a multi-styled stadium filler. "You Make Me Breathe" sounds like Cure-with-sax adult contemporary, and "She Conjures Me Wings" and "Who Will Love Me Tomorrow?" are reminiscent of the Wonder Stuff, those Carved in Sand tour openers who had made a big impact on the U.K. charts in 1991. Some of it ("Spider and the Fly," "Shades of Green," and "Even You May Shine") is classic Mission and definitely worth hearing, and "Like a Child Again" is a rather killer pop melody à la "Hands Across the Ocean" from Grains of Sand. It's admirable that Wayne Hussey wanted to broaden the sound of his band, but that's just not his specialty. He was always at his best when he was dramatic, over the top, and overwrought without a thought or concern as to what anyone thought. On Masque, the Mission suddenly sound like a band with an identity crisis (and given the sudden departure of guitarist Simon Hinkler on the U.S. leg of the Deliverance tour, this is no real surprise). If it seems odd that the focus is on the leader and not the band, well, this was originally meant to be Hussey's first solo outing, and given the lack of response the album engendered, it may well have been a better idea to release it as just that — because this doesn't sound like the Mission, but rather like a band trying to find its direction.

Masque, The Mission
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