Dramatic, cinematic and unflinchingly poppy Austin quartet What Made Milwaukee Famous writes intelligent songs, plays them with heart-stopping passion and never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously. While Schlitz might have given the band its name, Michael Kingcaid, Drew Patrizi, John Farmer and Jeremy Bruch are clearly under the influence of far more potent intoxicants, such as Brendan Benson's melancholy power pop, Radiohead's paranoid indictments and the Fruit Bats' misty-eyed twang, among other things. The secret to this brew, however, is in the way the foursome combines so many divergent ingredients into a sound that's as tasty as its name. That keyboard line might sound like Greg Hawkes, and that little melisma might be a dead ringer for Ed Harcourt, but the sum of these parts is far greater. Theatrical without being histrionic and arch without being haughty, What Made Milwaukee Famous crafts kaleidoscopic pop gems with meat on their bones, stars in their eyes and little flecks of spinach in their teeth.
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