What Made Milwaukee Famous: What Doesn’t Kill Us

Music Reviews What Made Milwaukee Famous
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What Made Milwaukee Famous: What Doesn’t Kill Us

Soaring pop-rock record only dips toe into emo muck

In an age when the single is king, it’s probably unfair to expect an entire album to resonate.

Can we accept—even embrace—an indie-pop band that puts out seven solid songs and falters on a few, as does this accessible Austin, Texas, quartet on its new release? Yes. So let’s laud What Made Milwaukee Famous. Never mind that the last tracks wade into emo slop. The first are special: sweet and soulful vocals, some ghostly harmonies and ambitious arrangements that veer from Snow Patrol to Old 97’s to Ben Folds. Coherence isn’t this band’s thing, but that doesn’t matter much—it’s fun to marvel at how they put flamenco handclaps, chugging-train drums, orchestral piano and layered horns all on one album. We can ignore the Jason Mraz-style oversinging and kinda cloying lyrics on tracks like “To Each His Own” and “The Other Side.” Seven out of 12 ain’t bad.

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