Monday, April 28, 2008

Love is Simple - Akron/Family

Love is Simple

Young God Records.

SCQ Rating: 68%

“Now don’t start that shit,
that pit-er-pat bit bout
shamanistic shaker spells and
alpha beta grammar slides,
water belly floppy drivin’
stoneless skippin’ Brother John the
Headless one bathes baby J the
Chosen one a portal dripped down
From the sun, portals dripping…”

This quote messily sums up all of Akron/Family’s lyrical musing: the rhythm and energy of hedonistic living, the mysticism of nature and the connections between us. As such, Love is Simple rides an unpredictable sequence of druggy authenticity; a trip that is wonderfully euphoric as often as it is frantic and unnerving. Ranging from simple folk songs to expansive suites (often within the same track), this Brooklyn foursome shape beautifully elegant moments just when you assume a goofy tirade about some guy named Ed being a portal is going nowhere. And vice versa; the hand-slapped percussion and vocal harmonies that compliment ‘Lake Song’ are abandoned in favour of ‘New Ceremonial Music for Moms’; a tribal-pattern attached to the same track that thumps, screams, and, truthfully, ruins what could’ve been a great composition.

Despite the often-contradictory songwriting, every track is indispensably campfire sing-along material and fortunately, Akron/Family hone their respective talents into several true-to-form songs. ‘Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead’ is heart-on-sleeve lovely, a Let-It-Be style ode that echoes the record’s title in a way that should be roundly applauded. Another song that prospers when given attention is ‘Pony’s OG’, a distinguished coda of pulsing acoustic notes that swelters into a life-affirming peak that rewards its tense mid-section. These peaceful, reflective tunes are so expressive because, like travelers who’ve found their hard-fought destination, we’ve been immersed in the bizarre, rag-tag forest of freak-folk and it’s nice to find that much-needed breathing room.

Love is Simple, for all its resolute assertions, is a surprisingly difficult record to wholeheartedly approach, mostly because the musicians involved are equally trained to the task of acid-folk and classic rock. This artistic proficiency does pay off but expect this record to be a confounding mixed bag during initial spins. It’s a trip worth taking, if only to say that you’ve been there, done that.

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