Akron are a hairsbreadth away from being a truly great band and Love is Simple is another indication of how far they've come.
Akron/Family – Love is Simple
And knocking every other release this autumn into a cocked hat is – yep you guessed it, Akron/Family. What is it about this lot? Why are they on another planet than the rest of the competition? It just goes to show that cussed perversity allied with talent and vision will win through eventually, no matter what the odds are. Akron are a hairsbreadth away from being a truly great band and Love is Simple is another indication of how far they've come.
After the short vocal harmonising welcome of Love, Love, Love we have Ed is a Portal which becomes a tribal chant of epic proportions thanks to an enthusiastic backing chorus. Soon things settle down to a banjo driven pow-wow of sorts. Its hypnotic, and as ever with Akron you really don't know if they're taking the piss or trying to contact the spirit world right here and now. Suddenly things break into a beautiful acoustic reverie redolent of the Carpenters, a reverie which suddenly turns a corner and becomes a conversation! Hang on; we're back to the tribal chant once more, replete with a guitar adding that extra kick. Just so we don't get bored we are suddenly confronted with a tinny beat box accompanied by a lonely vocal. It's immense and never does the music back off.
Don't Be Afraid is a more sedate affair, a gentle folksy strum and a welcome relief after the mayhem of Ed is a Portal. We are told not to be afraid of love, but that we're already dead... I've Got Some New Friends reminds me of Gong with its vocal "arpeggio" before descending into an incredibly messy (and funny) acoustic stomp – replete with bleeps and blurps from a hidden synth. The song suddenly gets a second wind and speeds off to a beautifully positive conclusion.
Lake Song/Ceremonial Music for Moms is just wonderful, a reflective Akron in love with floating on a lake. Things start getting tribal again and a women's choir start to add to a dizzying spiral of noise that threatens to envelop everything around it before coming down with a gentle bump. There's So Many Colors is a continuation of sorts what with all the Amon Duul 1 style chanting and random guitar noodling. A gentle and funny folk song slowly emerges, which develops into an After the Goldrush work-out before settling down again to that gentle folk song we met earlier.
Crickets is a lovely, peaceful song about... crickets, whereas Phenomena is a wee bit livelier, but not much. The softness of the latter part of the LP is carried on with the transcendental Pony's O.G, an absolutely beautiful paean to nature before, that is, getting "involved" in a backwards tape loop. Easily one of their finer moments. Of All the Things suddenly returns us to the manic dancing round the acid campfire, with whirls and drum rolls aplenty. Of course there are moments of utter silence in between the reverie and wig outs. Just so we don't get too strung out, a reprise of the opener Love, Love, Love lets us down gently.
A stunning piece of work.
Words: Richard Foster