REVIEW: Milwaukee Shepherd-Express, 5/10/10:
Rollicking Musical is a minor masterpiece of rock production recorded by Milwaukee music veterans Mike Benign and Joe Vent. The debut album by this new lineup of old friends is a carefully layered effort that never loses the organic sound of a rock band, a tip of the hat on many tracks to the influence of George Martin and kindred spirits from the late ‘60s. “So Easily Sold,” for example, sounds a little like a deep cut from Bad Finger.
The songs themselves are entirely the work of Benign, a writer of elliptical vignettes grounded in the ‘80s style of Squeeze and Crowded House with many wry wrinkles in the lyrics. And yet the production and arrangements continually allude to an earlier period, complete with Beatlesque harmonies and the icy whisper of Tyler Traband’s melotron. Perhaps the album’s most brilliant track, “The Soothing Sounds of Seals and Crofts,” is an insomniac’s nightmare at the edge of fuzzy psychedelia, an insistent beat drumming home the anxiety of sleeplessness.
REVIEW: OnMilwaukee.com, 5/10/10:
Benign is eager to point out that the Compulsion is a "full-fledged band" -- but after a decade away from music, Milwaukee is most eager to get reacquainted with the cutting pop -- a la Elvis Costello, Semisonic, Crowded House and Squeeze -- that made Benign famous.
Brew City music fans can breathe easily. "Rollicking Musical" is laced with top talent like guitarist Joe Vent, bassists Brian Wooldridge and Paul Biemann, keyboardists Tyler Traband and Dan Type, and drummer Mike Koch. But also with the kind of slice of life tunes like "All the Married People," "She Believes It" that have been Benign's bread and butter.
The result is a straightforward, tuneful, smart debut that says Benign is back and, oh yes, he's got a band with him.
REVIEW: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 5/13/10:
Mike Benign was a steady presence in the Milwaukee rock scene during the end of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. The bands he led, including Umbrella Man and Blue in the Face, echoed the heyday of intelligent pop-rock.
Benign just about disappeared after Blue in the Face disbanded in 1995, so "Rollicking Musical," his new album with a new band, the Mike Benign Compulsion, marks his proper re-emergence. His songwriting and singing voices haven't lost anything important, and they have gained the wisdom if not the weariness of age.
He's still clever - songs such as "The Soothing Sounds of Seals & Crofts" and "All the Married People" aren't far removed from his best earlier work - but he's also comfortable. The rest of the Compulsion - Joe Vent, Michael Koch and Brian Wooldridge - matches his nothing-to-prove attitude.