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The Modern Tribe (4AD)

Wednesday, Nov 7 2007

The kaleidoscopic cover of Celebration's The Modern Tribe features an image of a chorus line straight out of the notebook of Hollywood choreographer and director Busby Berkeley. While the music inside isn't quite as over-the-top as the illustration suggests, the Baltimore trio's second album of cabaret-inflected modern rock is definitely bustling.

No doubt such density arises from TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, who produces for the band once more. Members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Antibalas, TVOTR, and Dragons of Zynth pile on backing vocals, guitars, and horns. Luckily, Celebration singer Katrina Ford has the pipes to cut through the cacophony. Her voice is clarion amid all sorts of noise haze, polyrhythmic patterns, wheezing Wurlitzer, and whatever noise haze Celebration can conjure.

Ford muscles her way atop the mix with a delivery often compared to the pantheon of strong-voiced women from Siouxsie Sioux to Shirley Bassey. She both bellows and coos on "In this Land," overtaking and underscoring nuances within David Bergander's rhythmic shuffle. On the soaring "Tame the Savage," she melds into choir chants and Sean Antanaitis' organ swells, while on closer "Our Hearts Don't Change," she withstands a frenetic battery of percussion. The album's single, "Hands Off My Gold," bears more than passing resemblance to the Propellerheads' 1998 track "History Repeating." But while stars like Nick Zinner and Kyp Malone contribute guitars to the dervish of drums and brass, it's Ford who glimmers brightest.

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Andy Beta


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