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Akron / Family - S/T II

While Vanderhoof is missed, the band has evolved around his leaving.

Akron/Family’s Young God era firmly shut with ‘Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free’; their first album on Dead Oceans, and first without Ryan Vanderhoof, it displayed yet another sonic shift for the amorphous band. While their style was found, it was certainly underdeveloped and held a very distinct Vanderhoof shaped gap, which looked in danger of destroying them. Their follow up could then be argued the band’s last chance to reinvent themselves while people will still listen, one last throw before people lose patience. It could even be argued that by dubbing this their second self titled album, it is designed to come across as a mission statement - their chance to prove Vanderhoof wasn’t their Richie Edwards.

Thankfully, while Vanderhoof is missed, the band has evolved around his leaving. The album displayed before us now has progressed from their previous metal styles into something that hops between folk, post punk and rock in equal measures. In place of the heavy guitars are up tempo freak folk songs, such as the drone drenched ‘Light Emerges’ and the sing-along friendly ‘Silly Bears’ juxtaposing more slow tempo meanderings such as ‘Cast A Net’ and ‘Island’, the latter bringing to mind Band Of Horses covering a slow Phosphorescent track. While this has already drawn a lot of comparisons to Animal Collective, it could be argued that it’s closer to either early Grizzly Bear with its complex compositions and progressions, or, simply in terms of what it sounds like, Islet with their anarchic and entropic tangle of sections and styles.

The standout tracks here have to be the couplet of ‘A AAA O A WAY’ and ‘So It Goes’, the former building up to the latter, where the song can progress impressively. ‘A AAA…”s monosyllabic opening backed with some lovely noise breaking down into a jazzy interlude, before being answered by the upbeat guitar of ‘So It Goes’ and dragged into an offbeat rock track with Vonnegut’s famous mantra making the refrain. Put with the rest of the album, it’s another eccentric aside, but then each and every track could be considered the same.

The start of the second Akron/Family, complete with a new style and feel; they’ve not lost their world music, folk and psyche feel, but in place of their heaviness, they’ve embraced tradition and psychadelia in a whole new way to make something that forms a perfect bridge between freak folk and traditional folk in all creeds and colours.

Tags: Akron/Family, Reviews, Album Reviews

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