Strongest When They’re Raunchiest
Celebration’s sound is hard to pin down and pigeon-hole. They label themselves as a psychedelic soul band, but that doesn’t come close to describing the breadth of their sound.
The first track, “Razor’s Edge,” is a bit of a red herring, a driving, mid-tempo number reminiscent of early Goldfrapp that strays towards indie dance music. It doesn’t reflect the dreamy synth and organ drenched blue-eyed soul or the crunchy, dirty blues grooves found through the rest of the record. Still, it’s a solid track.
Celebration comes off strongest when, as in “Blood is the Brine,” they get into a slow, raunchy, blues groove. Lead singer Katrina Ford swaggers her way through the opening section, huskily burying herself in the mix before soaring above above it. The blues saunter is broken up by waltz-time turnarounds before giving way to a 1953-rockabilly-by-way-of-1973-glam-rock piano boogie outro.
“7’ Samurai” is the only soft spot in an otherwise solid album. The pairing of alt country guitar riffing with a dissonant synth line and math-rock drum work makes this song hard to get into. Being sandwiched between the album’s two strongest tracks doesn’t do it any favors either and will lead to it being frequently skipped.
“I Got Sol,” another sauntering blues groover, is where the band really gets their hooks into the listener. The song starts with a dank, overdriven guitar and hammond organ jam with the bass just barely keeping time. To this mix the rhodes piano, drums and vocals are added, building in intensity and energy. The song transitions into a piano-driven, cut-time section, graced with swooping vocals from Ford before diving down into fuzz-guitar riffing. After a quick detour into Big Brother and the Holding Company territory, the song picks up speed, jumping from one texture to the next in a musical rollercoaster until settling into a drum heavy breakbeat section and ending with a massive, swelling, held note. Glorious.
With all the disparate influences shining through in this album, it would have been incredibly easy for it all to have gone completely sideways, spinning into a musical jumble. However, Celebration transitions seamlessly from one musical texture to the next, managing to maintain their own sound throughout, all while drawing inspiration from across the musical spectrum.