It seems that goth legends The Mission must have enjoyed their extensive 25th anniversary tour that began back in 2011, as a brand new studio album entitled ‘The Brightest Light’ is the result. And as most music fans know, there’s nothing a stoney-faced goth likes more than to have their sullen and melancholic heroes being all full of pain and misery, wallowing in self-pity and jangly guitars… isn’t it?
Well then, prepare for something of a shock as ‘The Brightest Light’, whilst still undoubtedly The Mission, has something of a sense of humour about it. Alright, it’s not exactly a Chas n’ Dave album (although Wayne Hussey singing “Ain’t No Pleasing You” would be a cover version worth hearing) but when the opening line of first track “Black Cat Bone” is “When you get to my age the candles cost more than the cake” you know you’re in for some sly wit amongst the self-reflective lyrics. Musically the song is nodding towards their classic late-80’s days but Hussey’s lyrics – and his voice – come from somewhere else; The Mission, it seems, have matured.
The 70’s glam rock feel of “Everything But the Squeal” keeps the momentum going on a bouncy drum groove and a big chorus but after the U2-esque single “Sometimes The Brightest Light Comes From The Darkest Place” – possibly the only rock song to feature the phrase “… silly sod” – and the upbeat pop-rock of “Born Under a Good Sign” the album drops the harder edge and moves into more acoustic territory, with tracks like the bluesy “When The Trap Clicks Shut Behind Us” adding plenty of raw emotion but with none of the flowery whimsy that the band may have toyed with in the past.
The album sticks with the acoustics for the next few songs but just when you think the band have upped sticks and joined a folk club they bring the goth edge back with the powerful “Swan Song” before closing with the somewhat touching “Litany for the Faithful”, which sees Hussey addressing his relationship with his fans in a confessional way. Overall, ‘The Brightest Light’ may not stylistically be the album that many long-standing fans would want to hear but there’s something quite refreshing in that. The Mission always had a broader appeal than The Sisters of Mercy or Fields of the Nephilim and having original members Craig Adams and Simon Hinkler back in the fold seems to have set off a creative spark that sees the band daring to be different and – to a point, at least – getting away with it.