It doesn't bode well when a band uses its album's title to refer to its friends in more well-known bands (the 'tribe' is Celebration, plus the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio). It gets worse when you learn that members of those aforementioned bands guest on this album. It smacks of reflected glory, which is disappointing when one remembers just how fresh and individual Celebration's self-titled debut was, and how it surpassed anything released so far by their more famous friends.
Whilst their debut hit you between the eyes with its vitality from the very first play, The Modern Tribe is more of a grower, which seduces you slowly and rewards you more with each listen. The Modern Tribe has more variety, more light and shade than its predecessor. 'Evergreen', 'Comets' and 'Our Hearts Don't Change' show a calmer, more dreamy side to Celebration's music, and there is genuine excellence at work in these songs. Elsewhere, songs such as 'In this Land' and 'Pressure' are the aural equivalent of a great horror movie: tense and disorientating, but endlessly riveting. The Hammond organs still pulsate through Celebration's music, but the horns are a welcome addition to their sound, and Katrina Ford's titanic voice is being used to great effect in a torch-singer style; there's far less shrieking than there was on their first album, as amazing as her shriek sounds.
After repeated listens, it all starts to make sense: Celebration are expanding their sound without losing what made them the world's most underrated band in the first place. Perhaps they are destined to remain in the shadows as a cult concern (Evergreen was released as a single but didn't break them, and if that song can't do it then no song can), but to the minority of people who know about this band, Celebration's music is more fascinating and precious than anything their more famous friends could manage.