Love Is Simple | Reviewexciting and lively Akron/Family burst onto the music scene in 2005 with their promising self-titled debut and a fantastic split EP with the Angels of Light. With 2006’s Meek Warrior, however, they seemed to run out of energy even as they piled on the ideas. Thankfully, Love is Simple is exciting and lively, and its fusion of straightforward rock, tribal freak-outs and dense soundscapes makes it Akron/Family’s best release yet.
Love is Simple isn’t a concept album per se, but it has a consistent feel and theme—love—that does wonders for its effectiveness. Among the shorter songs, “Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead” and “Phenomena” are standouts. Both exercise restraint and emphasize melody until their fantastic Neil Young-esque guitar climaxes. Of the longer songs, “Ed Is A Portal” and “There’s So Many Colors” are noteworthy. Both contain some of Akron/Family’s best tribal freak outs, perhaps best described as a mixture of campfire harmonies and free jazz via bizarre vocal chants, handclaps and sparse acoustic guitars.
Aside from one unnecessary brief drum-machine passage at the end of “Ed Is A Portal,” the arrangements are fresh and organic in a way most releases today are not. And like Young’s albums Tonight’s the Night and Rust Never Sleeps, the album begins and ends with two versions of the same song, “Love, Love, Love,” which adds to its cohesiveness. The only misstep is “Lake Song,” although fans of the avant garde will tolerate its droning four minute finish.
Exhibiting elements of rock, jazz, psychedelia and folk, Akron/Family makes music that is impossible to pigeonhole, despite the fact that they are often lumped into the cadre of “freak-folk” bands. Whatever they are, they’re in top form as a band on Love is Simple.