Instrumental rock is a hard sell, especially the brand made by Wisconsinites Cougar. The band’s music is often chaotic, constantly changing and fiercely ambitious. On their second album, their experimental leanings are on full display, with music that can be considered “rock” only in the loosest sense of the word. Cougar’s more interested in intensity than accessibility, so when songs work—see the crashing, layered “Florida Logic” or the tinkling loveliness of “Pelourinho”—they carry a visceral directness. Sometimes the band overreaches, though, as swelling voices and propulsive percussion occasionally give way to tedious proggy navel-gazing. Cougar doesn’t always succeed, but at least they dare to make the attempt.

Listen: “Rhinelander”

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