Monday, February 17, 2014

CD Review: The Mike Benign Compulsion - Here’s How It Works


Check out “Haley Daley,” the first single from The Mike Benign Compulsion’s latest release, and it’s immediately apparent this Milwaukee-based quartet still enjoys setting unusual tales to fetching power pop arrangements. The guitar-driven song taps into mid-1960s music while describing a young woman whose destructive behavior leads to her parents’ demise and doesn’t bode well for her own future either. It’s part of a stream of social satire that flows throughout Here’s How It Works

Singer-guitarist Mike Benign, who consistently combines with drummer-vocalist Michael Koch and guitarist-vocalist Joe Vent for gorgeous and inventive harmonies, is also capable of bringing a snide attitude to his delivery. The three musicians, along with bassist Brian Wooldridge, were veterans of other area bands before joining forces in The Mike Benign Compulsion. The high-speed “Boyhood Idol” and “Rubbing Off On Me,” a quick jab at corporate morality, feature the ringing guitars of Benign and Vent, while the slower “Bay Window” has a bit of a Kinks feel.

On “Martha, We” and “You Say It’s Over” the band uses melodic mid-tempo arrangements to describe crumbling relationships, and “Sleep” is a short acoustic number augmented with three-part harmonies. Those well-crafted vocals have a more ironic purpose on “Professional Jealousy/Saw Your Post,” as the energetic song shifts into a slow coda with the repeated line, “Saw your post, it was clear for the umpteenth time your life is better than mine.” The Mike Benign Compulsion has a release party for Here’s How It Works scheduled at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on March 8th, with guest Testa Rosa.

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