Northern State won over the smart set with its highly caffeinated, estrogen-powered combination of early Beasties high spirits and late-period Beasties social consciousness. But by the time the melanin-light trio made the jump to Columbia for All City, the hipster crowd had turned on them. The group's defiantly loose new disc once again kicks it independent-style, with a sparkling new set that augments signature old-school flows and girlish good humor with electro and new-wave flourishes. Thankfully, label changes and industry drama have done nothing to diminish the group's irrepressible optimism and goofy sense of fun. Who says liberals don't know how to party? Judging by their charming new CD, swimming upstream suits these consummate underdogs just fine.

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