*** (out of four)
The Mynabirds' frontwoman Laura Burhenn describes the band’s sophomore effort "Generals" as a protest album—specifically, a concept album based on her political frustrations. That comes through loud and clear with lyrics like "I need a political job/ In a blue collar town/ So I can pay my rent" kicking off the title track. After a few listens, though, I found a lot more than political protest throughout the album.
You'll get ’60s pop in "Radiator Sister," electronic dance beats in "Body of Work" and peaceful indie melodies in "Greatest Revenge" to back up her politically charged lyrics. And of course, the loud and angry protest songs like "Generals" are full of foot-stomps and hand-claps, sultry and vaguely threatening. On repeated listens this diverse collection opens up and emphasizes different tracks each time.
Burhenn has again teamed up with producer Richard Swift, a favorite of mine for his swinging piano and soulful tunes. Swift's influence is most evident in the bouncy piano opening of "Radiator Sister," a playful, catchy song that lingers in your head for days. The pair also worked together on The Mynabirds' 2010 debut "What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood," a sadder, more subdued and philosophical album. They successfully navigate a major change in approach, scoring again with "Generals" and its angrier but still-strong songs of political frustration.