Album Review: Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free

The new Akron/Family album comes at an important crossroad for the band. Having lost an original member soon after the completion of their last record, question marks arose over whether they could maintain the quality and flair shown on their previous three albums.

On hearing Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, it doesn’t take long to realize that there was never any reason to panic. Opener ‘Everyone Is Guilty’ struts in with a funky guitar lick of Sly & The Family Stone proportions. The song sets an early precedent for the whole album twisting and snapping from genre to genre, stoner rock to grimey blues and then back to funky dancefloor boogie, just to be carried out in swathes of strings and horns.

The rollercoaster of moods and grooves continues from start to finish on a platform of folk building blocks. ‘River’ and ‘The Alps & Their Orange Evergreen’ take you to a more mellow place, with breezy picked melodies and tight three part harmonies, it becomes clear that this is the music that Akron/Family were brought up on, but it’s where they have taken it since that really gets the blood pumping.

‘Creatures’ is a dark brooding number, and shifts along with an uncomfortable air of mystery which the title would suggest. While ‘Gravely Mountains of the Moon’ throws the listener from fluttering pan-pipes to guttural yelps and throttled guitar screams.

This really is inspired stuff from start to finish, with whiffs of Animal Collective but with more of a willingness to deliver a tune and identifiable structure. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free constantly surprises and never disappoints.

Words: Adam Wilkinson