The Mynabirds’ (@themynabirds) charged new album, Generals, makes it clear that lead singer Laura Burhenn is not one to be messed with. There’s an edge to her sultry vocals and an insistence to the repetition in her lyrics that makes these songs even bigger and better than their irresistible rhythms imply.
Burhenn recently told Interview Magazine that this is “sort of a Jackson Pollock record” and indeed, it’s splattered not only with multiple tempos and various layers of instrumentation but is also dripping with passion, momentum and personal credos. While the sound is orchestral and epic, the lyrics are unembellished and pointed as Burhenn sings of responsibility, power, faith and persistence.
There are elements of soul (in the ringing “Disaster”), sliding blues notes (in the fiery single “Generals”) and pop with an edge of grunge (in the percussive “Wolf Mother”). Burhenn knows how to put a good line to maximum effect, and though she leans on the refrains in each song, the repetitive structure never feels tired or uninspired. On “Mightier Than the Sword”, the line is “When you forget the words I will sing them for you”; on “Body of Work”, it’s “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you”, borrowed from the work of Jean-Paul Sartre.
The album opens with the gentle groove of “Karma Debts”, its simplicity serving as a platform from which the subsequent songs can expand until ultimately dissolving again into the stirring ballad “Greatest Revenge”. With striking resolve, Burhenn repeats “I’d give it all, I’d give it all, for the legacy of love” making this final song perhaps her most anthemic.
This album will comfort, it will inspire, it will challenge. It will be played over and over, because the rhythms alone are not what make it so irresistible.