In a blind taste test, you'd have no trouble picking out Mission of Burma as a reformed '80s band among the slew of records released by younger contemporaries. In truth, it's sort of unfair to refer to them in that way, seeing as they've released more albums since their 2002 regrouping than they ever did in their heyday. Everyone's getting back together lately, but these guys did it first. The hype of a 'comeback' is well out of the way; now they're just a band, like everyone else.

Nevertheless, Unsound still sounds like a period piece. There's the scratchy production, for a start. Then there's the classic old man yowl, familiar to any Shellac fan. It sounds like it was recorded with a '....that'll do' mentality. Not that the band will feel like they're compromising; this sort of sound is a way of life. 'This is Hi-Fi'--which consists of the song title as a repeated mantra, followed by a bucketload of noise--acts as a sarcastic mission statement. It is fitting they would call the album Unsound.

The record exudes a natural, hard-earned confidence. Everything works well together, even when the songs are eschewing structure in favour of more exploratory ideas. They've been doing this for so long, they know when to add a handclap, a backing vocal or even a discordant trumpet. Another weapon of theirs is the occasional bizarre guitar effect--a piece of studio trickery achieved by reusing and modifying the recordings via a tape loop. It's an established Mission of Burma technique.

Perhaps they've been doing this for so long that they're sick of 'songs.' The tracks often wander away from familiar patterns. 'Add in Unison,' for example, bases its beginning and end around a simple, catchy two-note pattern, but faffs around too much in between. 'Fell->H2O' actually keeps its guitar hook going for most of its length, and is accordingly one of the most memorable tracks on the album.

When writing Unsound, the band described themselves as a 'four-headed hydra trying to create unity without canceling or censoring each head.' The result is sometimes interesting, but when one head dominates another, the songs get pulled way out of shape.