Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra's debut last year on Ninja Tune, Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1, was a critic's darling.

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra's debut last year on Ninja Tune, Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1, was a critic's darling. The band was not the tightest out there, perhaps, but the energy was a thing of beauty, and its dedication to the Afrobeat groove of Fela Kuti was the real deal. With the release of Talkatif, the Antibalas (which means "bulletproof/anti-bullets") collective has dealt with the slightly disorganized vibe of its debut. Talkatif is incredibly tight, the musicianship is powerful, and, most importantly, in the process of honing their chops, the band members have lost none of the muscle and edge crucial to their sound. Afrobeat is all about rhythm and groove, and Antibalas has assimilated these lessons completely. Check out "War Is a Crime," a wonderful, sultry dance track in the best tradition of Highlife and Afrobeat. It's powered by fine sax work and a flawless rhythmic sense that matches the feel conveyed by the best Cuban danzon, mambo, or charanga groups. Antibalas keeps Afrobeat real with Talkatif. Racked by Caroline.—PVV