Mynabirds, “Generals”

CD Review: The Mynabirds, “Generals”

Mynabirds, "Generals"

Saddle Creek Records

No matter where you live; no matter how popular or awesome you think you are; no matter how many friends you have on Facebook; you are not safe. Laura Burhenn is out there — and she wants to kick your ass.

I would know. After listening to Generals, her boot is so far up my keister, my belches reek of Stetson. I was just minding my business, tittering about in my man cave, waiting for the new Cheryl Cole super deluxe box set to arrive from England when Jeff Giles posted this video on Popdose. I haven’t been this turned on and terrified by a woman since Sire records slipped Danielle Dax onto a compilation I only bought for the rare Book of Love track.

Laura Burhenn is to the Mynabirds what Chrissie Hynde is to The Pretenders. It’s her show; but don’t expect some lovelorn songwriter whining “Joe lies (when he cries).” Burhenn commands vocals, pianos, synths, percussion and drums while co-producer Richard Swift nails the guitars, bass, electronic drums and just about everything else. Generals is a bar brawl won by the best parts of the Kills, the Ravonettes and the White Stripes. Burhenn’s sultry vocals seduce seconds before you’re clocked with nut busting bass lines, razor sharp guitars and crisp kick drums. Each strike of the piano is like flung whiskey running down your face.

Slow burn “Karma Debt” is the mermaid serenading sailors closer to the jagged rocks. The haunting chorus “I’d give it all, for a legacy of love” could very well be a cameo from Zola Jesus or Siouxsie Sioux. On “Wolf Mother,” the pace picks up, Burhenn gets her swagger on, guitars twist in like daggers, sparse drums and piano stomp into the mix with a vendetta. The pace picks up again. The lady wants to dance.

“Generals,” the best damn political anthem since Against Me’s “White People For Peace,” is also hot, sexy, sweaty and fun. While the fierce rhythm whips your naughty bits into a frenzy, Burhenn raises her fists and gets real: “But they keep putting all our cash, into the next bloodbath, honey tell you I am sick of it. Haven’t we paid our dues yet?”

Generals could peak right there and coast to a four star review, but the Mynabirds have no intention of letting up. Each new track passionately reaches for another brass ring, constantly twisting in ambitious new directions.

“Radiator Sister” lightens the mood with a delicious piano melody cross cut with sharp Tom Petty guitars. “Mightier Than the Sword” is slow, wandering and exquisite, recalling Jane Siberry at her artistic peak. Album highlight “Body of Work” shakes with calypso elements, handclaps, shimmying bass as if Lykke Li decided to make a record with Musical Youth. When Burhenn sings, “My love, we won’t surrender a thing by disarming” on “Disarm,” her plea for a white flag in her relationship aches to be heard by warring nations, religions, ideologies, genders, Hatfields and McCoys.

On “Greatest Revenge,” she takes shelter in the arms of her lover while our nation slides into hell, “No one knows how much it means, the pundit wars, rag magazines, battle fronts and beauty queens, making love in the headlines.”  The album careens to a dead stop full circle to where we first started: that haunting, exhausted and hopeful chorus: “I’d give it all, for a legacy of love.”

With this album and such fierce talent that has yet to be unleashed, the Mynabirds’ legacy of love is all but guaranteed.

Generals is available at great independent record stores everywhere and online at Amazon.