Austin’s What Made Milwaukee Famous has tinkered with their self-released 2003 album Trying To Never Catch Up for their Barsuk debut. Despite a slightly altered tracklisting and different colored cover art, the band’s essence remains in tact: power-pop with brains that doesn’t try too hard. The album moves quickly, opening with the glitchy electro of “Idecide” and shifting into garage rock territory (“Mercy, Me” evokes The Strokes) and even offers up shades of folk (the cleverly titled “hopelist”) and emo (“It’s not so much the way you hurt me, it’s more like the way you make me want to hurt myself,” lead singer Michael Kincaid quips on “Hellodrama”). Kincaid’s lyrics are wistful and astute, and any song that includes the word “trickery,” as “Almost Always Never” does, gets bonus points. Band member Drew Patrizi takes the mic on “Selling Yourself Short,” but it’s really Kincaid’s show; though he isn’t an extraordinary vocalist, songs like “The Jeopardy Of Contentment” display the different colors and textures of his voice (he’s capable of both an indignant growl and an elated falsetto). Of the four new tracks, the epic “Jeopardy” is the best, sporting a lush mix of strings and organ along with a mixed meter, while the bouncy “Sweet Lady” seems pedestrian, musically and lyrically, in comparison. The band might not be what made Milwaukee famous (the city is best known for its music fests and for having the most bars per capita), but Kincaid, Patrizi, and company could very well make a name for themselves all on their own.
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