THE WHO: MISSIO
THE WHAT: The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man (RCA Records)
THE WHY: It seems that Missio has failed to make Loner v 2.0…
…and that is a very good thing.
With the release of the Austin, TX duo’s 2017 debut album, Loner, Matthew Brue and David Butler tapped into a blue/black-lit rebellion and angst that was uncomfortable to the touch but – to so many – very familiar to the feel. Songs about real-life addiction, belonging, fucked up headspaces. driving under the influence and one particular rude gesture. All thoroughly non-PG rated stuff, but also all thoroughly real. And that real bolstered by full-bodied alt-electronic music resonated with listeners around the world.
Two years, a few tours and festivals, and a wealth of living later, their follow up, The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man, effectively moves MISSIO’s dial. Moves it from moody, unflinching self-exposure and flippantly titled club bangers to a musical statement that flexes with unexpected, but wholly welcome, emotional muscle.
The album’s first two singles, “Rad Drugz” and “Temple Priest,” signaled that this was the case but the stunning (aka did not see that one coming) and empathetic beauty of third single, “I See You” was a death blow to any chance that MISSIO had of sophomore album mediocrity.
Despite whip upgrades and being consciously bougie, Brue and Butler haven’t lost their senses of self yet the two men have grown and they flesh out that growth with depth, precision and an understanding of more than simply writing a tight hook. Yes, songs like the aggressive social check “Temple Priest” (featuring Paul Wall and Kota the Friend) and the absurdly dance party-inducing “Shimmy” (with Austin duo Blackillac providing some of the tastiest flow) pay homage to their fierce hip hop fondness and absolutely bang MISSIO-style: good job and well done on that, sirs. But, once again, they also manage to successfully paint their human relatability and scars (something so pervasive on Loner) with brighter, more vivid detail and bits of hope threaded through. Songs like “Dizzy,” “Underground” and even the surprising “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To” (with the Wind and The Wave) recognize the darkness and damage without romanticizing it and show a sonically less linear and more flexible MISSIO with zero loss of the bigger picture. Not even when the house music beats are backing Brue crooning about his Audi A4 – and if you’re a fan of the band, then you know how significant Brue being behind the wheel of a car really is.
So yes, it’s a very good thing that Brue and Butler felt neither the urge nor the inspiration to simply double down on Loner: If they had then “Esperanza En La Obscuridad” would never wash The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man (the album and its mission statement of a title song) to such a reflective and ambient close and we wouldn’t be privy to the even sharper corners of MISSIO’s mind tricked out by beats to die for and words to live by. And these are damned good reasons why The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man sits as my Album Of The Week.