Is it possible for a band to have a sophomore slump halfway through the third album its second time around? That seems to be the case with Mission of Burma. But the concept of a slump is relative here, since this album merely falls short of brilliance. But The Sound, the Speed, the Light is still amazingly solid; it just doesn’t quite measure up to the rest of the band’s legacy. The punchy immediacy of “1, 2, 3, Partyy!” starts the album with an insistent cadence that ratchets up and then throttles back — like it’s trying to throw listeners out of their headphones. “Possession” features a trippy, syncopated beat and sinewy bass line, with a slippery lead guitar twisting around everything but a melody (which is carried in the vocal harmony). “Blunder” sounds like its title, its beat staggering around like a guy who’s taken way too many hits to the head, with chunky vocals to match. But then, Sound’s spark flickers, yielding to songs that could be Burma b-sides — perfectly executed but lacking in intensity. Still, many of these songs are full of crunch, power, and the all-time classic Burma combo: sharp wit and sonic bombast. — Nicholas Hall
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