Few albums are as perfectly named as Celebration's The Modern Tribe. As sophisticated as it is wild, this is the album where the band gets to the unique heart of their music. It's more restrained than their striking, self-titled debut was, but it never sounds boring -- on the contrary, Celebration's mix of post-punk, dance-punk, soul, pop, and whatever else they feel like is a potent one; once again, it's helmed by Katrina Ford's remarkable voice. The Modern Tribe's streamlined songs allow her voice to tower even taller than it did on the band's debut, whether she's making the shimmering single "Evergreen" even more delicately beautiful, or snarling about a "wicked wayward son" on the rockabillyish rave-up "Fly the Fly." Ford's singing is even more versatile than comparisons would suggest -- she can sound like Elizabeth Fraser, Siouxsie Sioux, Nina Simone, and Polly Jean Harvey in the course of one song -- and the rest of Celebration follows suit. While it's easy to hear why the band is friends with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio (the YYYs' Nick Zinner and all of TV on the Radio appear on The Modern Tribe, and David Sitek reprises his role as producer), Celebration brings their own identity to this musical territory. The Modern Tribe contrasts radiant songs with dark, frantic ones in a fascinating chiaroscuro flicker. "Tame the Savage" sounds like it's lit by a "curious moon," raw and sensual at the same time, while "Our Hearts Don't Change" sounds like a classic love song after it's been floating around the stars for a few light-years. On the flip side, "Pony" and "Wild Cats" are exhilarating, simultaneously urban and feral, capturing how a dance or a night out can feel like a chase. Best of all is "Hands Off My Gold," a tour de force of tingling percussion and urgent brass that is The Modern Tribe's sexiest moment and proves how vital drummer/percussionist David Bergander is to the band. Not only does this album live up to its name, Celebration does as well -- The Modern Tribe is the sound of a joyous, complicated band coming into its own.
The Modern Tribe Review
by Heather Phares