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June 21, 2024

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The Mission UK
Aura (Metropolis Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

I came into this with the brow raised in slight suspicion as to whether the worth would justify the three year wait for one of the bands I hold to a higher esteem -- that's counting "Resurrection: The Greatest Hits" that followed their previous three year hiatus and really longer term loss of direction. "Aura" actually follows up the "Ever After-Live" release from 2000 and features the first new music by the original Wayne Hussey/Craig Adams team in almost ten years! I can honestly say with few exceptions, "The Mish" has made a successful landing from their apparent return trip from the heavens. I say this because whereas most Goth bands, and themselves included if we looked back far enough, generally mix an uneven balance of darkness and hope with the scales tipped convincingly in favor of the former, with maybe that rare glimmer of light flickering in the rain. Here the opposite is true. We find Mr. Hussey and company in a spirited good mood, and the resulting "Aura" thus, mixes a hopeful urging at every corner, inspired by a deep sense of satisfaction with the rosy glow on full display, in an erotic, evocative return as the love starved and conquering hero patterned after some of the most exciting music they've ever made. "Evangeline" promises the journey will right away be a memorable one for listeners settled in since the "Children" or "Carved In Sand" years, as this sister song to "Severina" follows the glamour "queen" and we're drawn in by her deadly charms amidst a dark but catchy opening moment; "Shine Like The Stars" and "(Slave To) Lust" radiate love and lust to full effect, with the latter eliciting an early middle eastern flair, carried through by a taunting guitar riff in a passionately twisted song that easily plays out among their strongest here and save for the early morning "fuck" phrase, is a can't miss on the Modern Rock charts. Ditto for "Dragonfly," employing their traditionally well timed backing "voice" amidst an upbeat verse, before letting briefly, their Brit Pop exuberance momentarily shine through, which considering the lyrical quest we've followed to now for this life affirming irrepressible joy, "Happy" stands out for its gleeful beat and General Public meets The Cure's bubbly breakout; okay, not one of the record's best but we'll indulge them their right to smile. Up to now there've been the expected movements within the modern edge, a dull edged cutting knife to be sure, where subtle arrangements, samples and programming add the electrical element off and again without evaporating their minor key open chorded charms that we've grown to expect and admire for so long; and let's face it, where you've got a presence like Hussey, who's more Bono or Gahan than Murphy or Morrissey, he's never sought to use broodish tactics to tug the heartstring any longer than needed to make the point and move on. "Trophy" then, comes away as a surge of Rock and Roll electricity, again forming strong Cure-like beats in a stream of synthnotes drowned themselves by extra echo and fade from rich guitars and endless harmony. The Mission's been a model of consistency during the years -- the go between from the darker Eldritch era and sonic Pop defiance. Caught somewhere between shadow and light there now exists "Aura," an exuding and encompassing presence of U2 star quality and temperance, Love Like Blood, and Church-like serenity crashing together like overeager stars in the quiet night sky and the powerful yet peaceful feeling that we are not still alone in the vastness of space.
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