Maybe I’ve been spoiled by CSNY’s “Ohio” or listened to Reinventing Axl Rose too many times, but I gravitate towards political music that has sharp teeth. As for Generals – the new sophomore release from The Mynabirds (aka Laura Burhenn) – it left me feeling gummed. Not to say the lyrics are bad; they just lack the bite it takes to outshine the melodies and leave a lasting impression. What’s left is a record that doesn’t feel especially brave or personal. The good news is it’s an incredibly catchy disc. Politics aside, the lines are so nicely delivered by Burhenn’s soulful voice and carried by her dirty eclectic pop it’s easy to overlook the rhetoric and appreciate her talent.
Overall, Generals is a solid mix of stomps, claps, treble heavy guitars, raw piano and rich vocals with just the right amount of reverb. The simplicity of the pulsing bass-line on “Karma Debt” and its vulnerable melody opens it up right by showcasing Burhenn’s stellar voice, unlike “Mightier than the Sword,” which eventually buries her under a grand buildup. Burhenn sounds best when under-produced, but the old radio effect fits in nicely on “Radiator Sister” (the bounciest track and my favorite). The disc sags in the middle before “Body of Work” comes in with excitable percussion and “Disarm” sways with a sort of beautiful plea that reminded me of “You” by TV on the Radio. Burhenn’s vocals are the backbone of the album but her songwriting is undeniably sharp as well; a few of the tracks have been stuck in my head for days. Listeners will find plenty of strong songs throughout with a nice mix of rocking dance numbers and slow-burning soul. If Generals doesn’t move you, it will at least have you moving. (Saddle Creek, saddle-creek.com) Matt Dyck