Akron/Family | Review
M. Gira & Akron/Family
Akron/Family sound like the Frank Zappa headed house band for the Muppets that never was. Mixing simple and enduring melodies with insanely quirky instrumentation (including squeaking chairs, screwdrivers, and the sanded metal rail of a staircase) it's a little eclectic at first. Folk, gospel, pop, and even reggae find their way on to the disc, creating the ethnic music for some still yet to be discovered nation.
But it's after the first few listens that the things that were initially off-putting become inspired, comforting and warm. There's a sort of spontaneity to the sound that catches you off-guard but then adds to the beauty of it. It's original, but it's not pretentious. It's flawed (at least in the traditional sense) but that's what gives it it's humanity and appeal.
The album starts off with "before and again" an acoustic ballad inundated with electric blips and bleeps and a quivering yet earnest falsetto, beautifully and simply stating "I have to say something if I want to sing, but it's not about the words. It's my voice rising to a place far from me, where my fingers can't reach." The song "i'll be on water" finds Seth Olinsky sweetly putting "thinking of you, there's lightening bolts in my chest. I know you know I think our love's the best" with the sort of big-eyed innocence that can only be pulled off with the deepest sincerity. "running and returning" does more genre hopping in four minutes than Madonna has in the last 20 years and ends with a bluesy jam-out worthy of the southernmost rock band. "afford" is a simple and repetitive, yet breathy and heartfelt song that builds and deconstructs only to be abruptly cut off with the sound of a recorder switching off. And the proper album is rounded off with "franny/you're human" which serves as a paramount of the album, building and incorporating the best parts as all four members harmonize over a single verse, putting a fitting cap to the effort.
In between these tracks are equal gems, shinning each in their own right, but it's the sum of it's parts that helps Akron/Family work so well. It's an effort. It's a thought. It's a statement. It's a progression. And quite frankly, it's a damn fine record.