Burning Airlines – Mission: Control!
February 23, 1999
What It Sounds Like: Imagine alternative rock band Bush with better pop hooks and more punky/hardcore roots. Basically, Bush on steroids, but don’t worry – there isn’t one scream or harsh vocal to be found on the entire record.
Carnival kicks off the debut Burning Airlines record with a bang; a straight forward in-your-face guitar rocker intro to get our attention, before keeping the energy up but restraining itself into a bass riff heavy verse, with ex-Jawbox vocalist delivering an oddity of circus-themed opening lines: Tilt and whirl, rise and plummet / Stalled in the sky and loved it / Blacked out, the stars above the lot still shone on you / Wired on raw good luck / We’ll never get far enough above / The sordid and sticky low-rent show that moves below. While these guys had a decent club following across the USA, it’s a rather hard thing to accomplish success when you release your first record in 1999, and your second in mid-2001, and with the horrific events that took place in September of that year, have to try to then tour and get venues to book you with a band name like Burning Airlines. Suffice it to say – these guys hung it up in 2002.
So begins this dated, but still wholly relevant alternative rock record. It’s an easy fix for me to take advantage of – the quick-fire drums and post-indie-punk chorus on Pacific 231 doesn’t sound forced, and flows easily from the speakers. The main mission (control!) of this record is to keep things varied, which is certainly accomplished. The franticness of Meccano is certainly a change from the almost pop-rock of Wheaton Calling, which is again another change from the surprising shoegaze-y knock down, drag out ending of 3 Sisters.
It’s a delight to hear these type of tunes in 2013, as it’s certainly a style of music that doesn’t have the dominance that it used to have, and it’s a type that I so easily gravitate toward. They lose a point, however, for the lyrics that we find here. They leave a lot to be desired, as they’re pretty nonsensical from what I can understand. Lines like Drowning on a perfect day / A surface I could never break / And fear beneath / A current pulling me beyond reach / River in the course daylight waiting for the sins that stick / Too vague to put right don’t really do all that much for me. You wanna take a crack at that? I guess when your old band is called Jawbox…
All this to say….
Fun record. Fun tunes. Full of energy, guitars, and alternative, slightly left-of-the-center hooks.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Carnival / Pacific 231