The Mynabirds

Generals

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2010's What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, the debut from the Laura Burhenn-led Mynabirds, was as effective as it was understated, skillfully blurring the line between '60s folk-pop and modern Americana. Listeners looking for another sultry set of Dusty Springfield/Linda Ronstadt/Carole King-inspired country-soul may find themselves a bit taken aback by the newly electrified Generals, but by upping the pop element, Burhenn and company have actually improved on their sound. Opinionated and empowering (the title's origin lies in an iconic 1963 photo titled "Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution" taken by the late American photographer Richard Avedon) without ever coming off as preachy, Generals is a fired-up yet congenial high five of a record that keeps its retro-chic intact while allowing the band to expand its sonic horizons. The heady combination of Burhenn's formidable pipes and the pops and fizzes of Richard Swift's tasteful production give high-energy cuts like "Karma Debt," "Body of Work," and the riveting title cut a swagger that pairs well with vibrant, politically charged lyrics like "You can be a soldier/you can be the snow/under the boots of an army with miles to go." Less immediate, though no less impressive, numbers like "Buffalo Flower," "The Greatest Revenge," and the gorgeous "Mightier Than the Sword" benefit as well, retaining the previous album's smoky charm, while introducing the fashionable luster of Cat Power and Goldfrapp, especially the latter's breezy 2008 release, Seventh Tree. Generals, like What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, may use the past as its foundation, but it was put in place by some forward-thinking engineers.

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