Review : The Mynabirds - Generals
Consequence of SoundWinner of 2010’s longest album title with What We Lose In the Fire We Gain in The Flood, The Mynabirds’ follow-up eschews verbosity and gets it down to a single word, Generals. Inspired by Richard Avedon’s iconic photograph, “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution”, Laura Burhenn juxtaposes the privileged, regal ladies of Avedon’s portrait with those she considers to be true daughters of the revolution, the likes, say, of Rosa Parks or Naomi Wolf. She considers how we can fight against the social and economic injustices of modern times without resorting to violent struggle. As The Stranglers once sang, “something better change.”
In a sense then, Generals is a concept album, or certainly a set of protest songs. On the deceptively beautiful opener “Karma Debt”, Burhenn’s plaintive, die-away voice portrays making music as a means to an end (“We hold our horns like credit cards/and hope to pay the rent”) yet she would “give it all for a legacy of love”. This sense of expediency runs through the ten-track offering. ...full text
PitchforkYet past all the stylistic flourishes, Generals is openhearted, politically engaged, feminist pop that, miraculously, never veers into schmaltz (or worse, didacticism). Over the staggered waltz of "Wolf Mother", she sounds beat up, but determined to keep plowing ahead, perhaps to raise her own standing army of revolutionary daughters. It's not everyday you hear Jean-Paul Sartre quoted on an indie record, but ending "Body of Work" with "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you" perfectly sums up the ideas at play on the album. It's not a matter of beating the bastards at their own game, though. Burhenn bookends the record with the plea, "I'd give it all, for a legacy of love," signaling that she's willing to sacrifice personal gain for the broader good, instead of setting the whole thing ablaze. Maybe it's just her voice (and god, that voice), but I believe her....full text
Paste MagazineIs it bad to fall in love with your subject? What about critical detachment, objectivity and all that? Regardless, Laura Burhenn slays any journalistic ethos. The multi-instrumentalist behind The Mynabirds—all emerald eyes, sonorous voice and staggering earnestness—is enough to make you melt—which is perhaps why, on her second solo album, she goes at length to make you freeze.
For those familiar with Burhenn’s Southern soul-soaked debut album What We Lost in the Fire We Gained in the Flood, Generals may come somewhat as a surprise: the sepia tone has been exchanged for a blue filter. Instead of redemption, these tracks long for revolution. And while the acoustic is now electric, the source is still the same: Burhenn’s capacity to care and desire to be cared for, transformed, at times, into righteous anger....full text
CmjGenerals starts off soft but strong with the powerful opening track, “Karma Debt.” In its first couple of seconds, Burhenn’s calm and sure alto voice commands your attention. She is rather persuasive as she croons, “I’d give it all/For a legacy of love.” The album rages on into “Wolf Mother,” a lyrically loaded gem that comes from years of pent-up political frustration. Driven by percussion, the track comes to a rocking, catchy conclusion. The single “Generals” is a revolutionary anthem that is blatant in its message; the people must stand up for change. With all of the stomping and clapping, she makes you feel excited and eager for action. The positive vibes keep flowing with dance-like beats and a righteous use of synthesizers in hits like “Radiator Sister” and “Disaster.”
The standout track on Generals is definitely “Body Of Work,” where the Mynabirds experiment with African melodies and rhythms. The echo in Burhenn’s voice sounds like an imitation of the call-and-response pattern that is so often seen in some cultures as a ritual or expression of democratic participation. ...full text
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