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Safety Fifth

Mucca Pazza
ELECTRIC COWBELL
Devoted superfans like yours truly are the most qualified to tell you that this is a great album, completely worth your time and money — but the third-best of the group’s three albums to date. While certainly suitable as an introduction, it’s just a wee bit disappointing for those of us who have had our DNA rewired by these wizards. By most standards, this album is wild and crazy, but it’s the most restrained, conventional collection yet from this 24-member circus-jazz marching band. Missing here are the shouted, punky vocals that have helped them update composers from Shostakovich to Serge Gainsbourg, making this an only slightly more sterile version of their presentation. Still, the band is so well-rounded that, ultimately, this is merely another side to a truly amazing band.