Boomkat Product Review:
There's been no shortage of love for US collective Akron/Family over the last few years. Consistently named by Michael Gira as one of the best bands on the planet (so good in fact he snapped them up to be his own backing band...) they have been the darlings of the indie media and the perfect entry point for many listeners into a wide world of abstract folk and rock sounds. Okay so the whole New Weird America fad may have loosened a little over the last twelve months, but Akron/Family simply offer so much more than any pigeon-hole could ever suggest. 'Love is Simple' is the band's second album proper and follows the incredibly well-received extended EP 'Meek Warrior'. Firstly it's worth mentioning that "Love Is Simple" isn't a folk album, sure there are lines to be drawn which connect the record to folk music, but there are just as many (if not more) parallels with progressive rock, electronic music, singer/songwriter, country, psychedelic rock, even jazz - and yet everything is mixed effortlessly into a colour I've never really seen before. You see unlike so many recent albums, 'Love is Simple' isn't a record which hops from style to style, rather numerous influences seem to be rolled up into one unfathomable, glorious whole, into something that truly doesn't sound like anything or anyone else who comes to mind. Synthesizers bleat and rumble, percussion trickles and vocals (usually sung by most of the band) ring out like a choir of great friends getting together for a Sunday practice, beer in hand. This is a band that are clearly having a good time and in its simplicity they have created a record which is just as complex as the math-pop of Deerhoof or the post-rock of Tortoise, only immeasurably more alien. This is why it's hard to drop Akron/Family into a specific genre, their love for music comes across as all encompassing, and for a self confessed music lover like myself it feels like a real privilege to hear them work. A track like 'Lake Song/New Ceremonial Music for Moms' simply doesn't sound like anything else on the planet, and what starts out as some kind of devotional percussion-heavy folk/rock ditty gradually morphs into tribal chants before melting into textured ambience. The experience is closer to watching a movie than listening to an music and this bravery, this ability to make something so defiantly experimental sound so, well, listenable should shoot the band into the stratosphere if there's any justice in the world. With critical acclaim deservedly following Akron/Family wherever they go it would be easy to see the band as just 'the next big thing', but in all sincerity 'Love is Simple' is one of the year's most original, involving and pleasurable albums. Essential purchase.