It was natural that after guitarist Simon Hinkler left the Mission, their goth rock would have less rock in it. Indeed it's even got a lot less traditional goth, excepting of course the hammed-up "Spider and the Fly". Instead, "Masque" feels more like a solo album from Wayne Hussey. He seems to be having a lot of fun playing around with new styles, and writing a few great songs in the process. It starts with a bang, and "Never Again" sees us in fairly familiar pomp-goth territory, but this time coloured by industrial electronics.
Early 90's indie-pop seems to be one of the influences here, and this comes across in a couple of colourful songs about unfaithfulness - "Shades of Green" and "Trail of Scarlet". Arabic flavours creep into "Even You May Shine" and most obviously the belly-dancing music of "Sticks and Stones". The romantic drinking song "She Conjures Me Wings" is one of their best tunes, though more suited to ye olde wine taverne than the Rat and Parrot down town. But perhaps their finest moment here is "Like a Child Again", an uninhibitedly happy love song, with a tune to die for. Forgiving it a couple of dodgy lyrics, this is recommended if you dug the Cure's "Friday I'm in Love".
"Who Will Love Me Tomorrow" is another great tune, co-written by Miles Hunt, with much richer lyrics. After a shuffling anti-religion rant on "From One Jesus to Another" we finish with the ballad "Until There's Another Sunrise" and its pompous but attractive climax. Sure, there's a couple of misses here, but the best moments of "Masque" are under-rated and undeservedly forgotten stuff.
May 17, 2004