Love is Simple | Review

Matthew Lurie | Time Out Chicago

no whim remains unexplored

There are certain things ’60s psychedelia trademarked that are too naive ever to make an unironic comeback—among them free love, sunrises and portals. The youthful idealism that seems to cling to every note from the Brooklyn band Akron/Family falls into that group—but the enigmatic quartet also recognizes that just as that decade left us cynical and jaded, it’s also the era most prime for reinvention. 

Akron/Family’s fourth album in a furious two-year existence keeps the group’s rickety and inexhaustible spirit roaring ahead. Its touchstones, from the Grateful Dead to Neil Young to Fairport Convention, could easily veer into ostentatious eclecticism, but since Akron/Family doesn’t boast a particularly charismatic singer, the musicians all sing—and play—without pretension. 

In the group’s songs, no whim remains unexplored, no harmony stays undoubled and no lyric is unrepeated. Drum circles lead into harmonic-minor field hollers while campfire sing-alongs get stepped on by goofy Silver Apples-esque synthesizers. The frequent call-and-responses between Akron/Family and a bellowing, amateur, mixed-gender choir adds to the raucous all-my-friends-are-here vibe. 

There’s so many colors without the dirty windows,” goes the hook on one of Love’shighlights, a typical schizophrenic try-anything affair. It begins in a bare Gregorian chant before morphing into a Crazy Horse–style dirge, then plummets into a plaintive folk lullaby—all over eight roller-coaster minutes. “Love is simple,” the band sings in a booming four-part chorus on “Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead.” Naive? Yes. But also radical.—