Missio Turn Dark Energy Into High-Octane Bangers on ‘The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man’
Austin, Texas duo Missio is the collaborative effort of two producers, Matthew Brue and David Butler, with the former also being the frontman. With two minds engaged in electronics, they manage to widely stretch the definitions of the EDM banner under which they are often placed. Their music treats rock edge with pop sheen, and channels it all into an electronic frenzy. The group name comes from the Latin term for “mission,” a term that Brue initially adopted in reference to a struggle with addiction, and this “mission” makes its way into the latest album, as seen in its title, “The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man.” The songs shuttle through disparate styles and manage to consistently sound natural and adept. Brue and Butler met with Entertainment Voice to get into the details.
One immediately striking feature of the album is the versatility on display. Opener “Underground” is a breezy number with vaguely Maroon 5 vocals, merely Brue’s voice of the day, and synth lines with some classic West Coast hip-hop flavor. At once, the magic is in the details — expertly crafted bass textures, vocal fluidity, just how well everything fits together in a punchy package. The hip-hop element grows far more pronounced on the following track “Temple Priest,” featuring Kota the Friend and Paul Wall. Wall is out of the spotlight these days, although still rapping hard, and Brue the Butler have put him on partly as a homage to their home state of Texas, as “He’s a Houston staple out there.” The music, however, is far from Wall’s usual fare. It’s a heavy and hype, almost recalling the ‘00s sound of “Nu metal” with a hype modern makeover, and the ravy hip-hop energy of Bassnectar. The song is “always a smasher” live, and it’s easy to see why.
There are slew of other wildly hyperactive cuts on the album, such as “Audi A4,” which runs like ultimate party track, with possibly every EDM cliche employed with a self-aware silliness, and lyrics that match. Another is “P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S,” a high octane track that finds the duo rocking out to how awful a friendship is. As Brue explained “We get a lot of bullshit from the music industry, just because we are a little different, and we’re left of center, and people don’t really know what to do with us.” On the bright side, this has inspired possibly one of the most priceless lines ever: “Your friendship is worse than P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S.”
Other songs like “Do You Still Love Me LIke You Used To?” ‘80s “Rad Drugz” take heavy inspiration from the ‘80s. The latter plays up the cartoonish angle of that decade’s music, with retro synth lines distorted to give some modern flair, and a cheery chorus full of exuberant bombast, with the line, “Your momma does drugs / Your daddy does drugs / Everybody does drugs.” While the song stems from experiences that Brue and Butler have had with drug use and addiction, this isn’t the main issue here. Brue expanded. “We all have addictions of all kinds, whether it’s social media or Netflix, coffee, or pornography… It’s more so just bringing awareness to the fact that your mom and dad are addicted to things, and… doctors are just giving out oxycodone and vicodin and xanax all the time, and… it’s an issue that a lot of society is choosing to ignore.”
There is plenty more on display here. “I See You” is a slower, sentimental number, with Brue putting on his warmest voice. He has a way of gliding in and out of an understated falsetto that couldn’t be smoother. “Dizzy” displays the duo’s subtle musical adventurous, with warbling bass and tricky hi-hats that conjure actual dizziness.“Misfit Lunatic” translates Eastern vocal melodies into a wild flurry of morphing, swirling synth sounds. “Shimmy” is a dark, twisted song disguised thinly as a dancey hip-hop number. Out of the blue, closer “Esperanza En La Obscuridad” is an ethereal, string-laden, cinematic outro, with scarcely a detectable electronic trace.
There’s certainly plenty varied action on “The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man.” Regarding the title, Butler revealed that for him, it’s about “becoming a better version of yourself through the trials. That’s the state of mind I like to believe it.” As for Butler, he explained that lhe has often felt as if, “I have to be struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety or whatever it is to feel like I’m writing songs that people are going to relate,” but he goes on to clarify that it’s “not true, because there’s a lot of beauty in songwriting that can impact people as well.” This is interesting in the light of this particular album. With all their talk about darkness, it really doesn’t seem like Brue and Butler have ever listened to real goth stuff. The darkness comes primarily in the sonics — full of heavy, amorphous noise with an edge that offsets some of the more effervescent qualities. And then, the darkness makes its way into the lyrics, but certainly doesn’t dominate them. This new record basically sounds like a good time. There are parody-level party songs and pure pop abounding. One arguable weakness that will prompt some to dismiss the album is how “bro” it can be, both musically and lyrically. The songs don’t immediately generally strike as particularly clever or profound. However, a closer look will reveal that to some degree, they can be both. And overall, it’s simply a collection of good songs.
“The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man” is available April 12 on Apple Music.