You read a lot of reviews that ask why a band isn’t better known, but really – why isn’t this band better known? Celebration is made up of Katrina Ford on vocals, husband and multi-instrumentalist Sean Antanaitis, and drummer David Bergander, who formed the band back in 2004. They have now added Tony Drummond (keyboards, percussion, backing vocals) and Walker Teret (bass, guitar) as permanent members. Albumin, their newest album, showcases an almost dizzying array of styles. They’ve been through a lot of label changes but Katrina Ford apparently said once that they just want everyone to be able to hear what they do. This album should make that happen.
Albumin is a bit of a whirlwind, a ride through different eras and genres. Artistic, in a compositional sense, the album, like the visual effects on the video for the first single, Tomorrow’s Here Today, reflects a painterly collision of patterns. The video has Lycra suited dancers who mirror each other and finally move in a messy dark finger paint floor of color that allows them to impact the blank paper on the walls. That could be a metaphor for the entire album; a playful mix of sound and disconcerting juxtapositions. It’s like an in joke that you are instantly a part of. And it borrows from the past, but there’s nothing nostalgic about it.
Razor’s Edge, the first song, is a standout. With a new wave, almost irresistible start, it’s just so…moody. Yet danceable! It’s fun and complicated. But then it does a change and gets heavier, knocking you out of your complacency, making it very clear that it’s the band who pulls the strings on which genre they inhabit, not the other way around.
Tomorrow’s Here Today has a lush beginning before it turns more poppy. The choppy guitar lends another layer of energy to the sweeping vocals. “The future will burn bright my love.” It manages to be cheerful yet suspicious.
7 Sensei has a guitar start, all indie rock, with remnants of new wave era sound in the synth at the build to the chorus. It’s a bit rock, a bit dreamy, a bit psychedelic in the matching of voice to guitar. There are faint echoes of Siouxsie from the Superstition era, then there are moments where all the parts combine and suddenly become something other. It makes you wonder where they will take this in the next album.
I Got Sol with its 70s Stones overtones couples very bluesy rock with the dreamy vocals, and moves into another sort of anthemic 70s moment, again with that overlay of something new. The organ in the background just seals the effect. It’s an extended rock jam, the vocal gliding solidly through each switch and turn, as it goes heavy and soft.
Chariot is a wild one. An intense Muse-like intro, with organ and powerful vocal, which drops into a lighter moment, back to new wave guitar, then changes atmosphere completely before heading to the blues. It’s a kaleidoscope of music genres, and somehow it all sticks together, mostly in part to Ford’s vocals, which connect all the pieces. It’s as though she is in front of a green screen and the background keeps changing, first one scene, then another, but she’s at home in all of them.
Celebration shows off a little in Albumin – look, we can do this, and that, and pretty well, and stop it short, and throw in something completely different. The effect may be startling at times. No one can say it’s not compelling.