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Friday, April 4, 2014

Well Informed Citizens: Swindlers and Thieves (Citizen Recordings)

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One of Milwaukee’s most memorably named bands does an about-face on Swindlers and Thieves. If Well Informed Citizens’ previous long-player, Leaders of the Revolution, was an exercise in controlled excess, hosting the contributions of five times as many players as there are in WIC’s trio line-up, this CD EP offers nothing but the band’s creativity. And that creativity gets spread over nigh as many styles as SaT’s five tracks.

Bookended by a slightly metallic update on Ventures-style instrumental surf with break beats and a romantic acoustic torch song, the middle’s stuffed with stompingly libidinous ’60s R&B/rock hybridism, minimalist reggae that cuts the difference between UB40 and Sublime and the titular tune that fairly well synthesizes all the other aforementioned elements. If the whole sounds a mite schizoid, that may be part of the Citizens’ charm. Either that, or maybe the varied influences will cohere into a more evolved sound on their next full-length outing. Either way, the diversity present here is more often engaging than not.