Mission Aura

Things kick off here with "First and Last and Alwa…,” uh, I mean, "Evangeline.” Easy mistake, as those opening bars could be straight off of the title track of the Sisters of Mercy’s first LP, First and Last and Always. But let’s not get all pissy and hair-splitting. The number is a typical gothic anthem, if mostly because it sounds like we’ve heard this one before. Perhaps Wayne Hussey (producer, vocals, guitar) is now having second thoughts about ditching his fellow Sisters back in the mid-’80s. As songwriter in both cases, some similarities should be expected. That said, there’s good and bad news here; it depends largely on who’s listening. The good is that it is your standard goth rock album, packed full of kick drums, jangly guitars and more hooks than a tackle shop. If you’ve never heard the Mission UK and are looking to expand your repertoire of gothic classics, this will appeal. The not so good news is that for those who already are familiar with the Mission’s stuff, because if you’re looking for something new here, you’ll be looking lots. The fact is Aura just sounds pretty much like the same old same old Mission. Could it be Hussey’s distinctive pop-style vocals or the layers of Cure-esque guitars and typically minor key (yet upbeat) gothic song structure? Not to say that these are bad things, but some new direction would be refreshing for this band. On the other hand, if it is not broken, don’t fix it, and I’m sure the legions of Mission fans would agree. Whatever side of the fence you sit on, there is a pop sensibility to this record that makes it very easy to get into. The guitar playing makes this disc all that it is and the surprisingly bouncy tunes are sure to become instant classics. (Metropolis)