So when I stumble across a bands like Akron/Family, who are able to throw together a seemingly endless barrage of musical styles and still create songs that sound as if they are being performed by human beings, I must admit I find it very exciting.
The band has been on quite a hot streak over the past few years, a streak I’m happy to say they’ve continued with S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.
With such an epic title, I suspect there are expansive story elements to Shinju TNT which may provide it with deeper meaning. In time I will perhaps explore them, but thus far I’ve tried to enjoy the album on a purely visceral level, and I’m happy to say I very much have.
Of the three A/F albums I’ve heard, Epic Journey is the most atmospheric, with certain songs achieving an almost Sigur Ros quality of ambiance. There’s an almost hypnotic quality to tracks like “Island” and “Fuji II (Single Pane” which makes for quality relaxation at the end of a stressful 28 hour work week.
It’s not an entirely quiet album, as more “rockin'” songs such as “So It Goes” and “Fuji I (Global Dub)” weave their way nicely within the complex confines of the album.
If any series of tracks encompass a band at its height, it’s tracks 5-7 on this album. “Another Sky,” an exquisitely crafted rockus track with dual vocals and multiple tempo changes never strikes a bad note, while “Cast A Net” is perhaps ST II’s strongest and most transcendent mellow song.
Sandwiched in between is “Light Emerges” perhaps the album’s most complete tune, which successfully combines the energy and mood which makes Shinju such a fascinatingly complex listen.
Generally I am more drawn to a band based on lyrics more than music, but with Akron/Family I’d say it’s the other way around. That’s not to say the lyrics are bad, but if I were to see them by themselves, a line like “first light in the morning, echos the song in my heart,” would likely be a bit hippy for my taste.
Luckily, the words never impose themselves on you in an obnoxious way. And just because I don’t necessarily subscribe to the school of thought on doesn’t mean it’s of low quality. These aren’t lyrics I would every fall in love with on their own, but interwoven with everything else, they work just fine.
If I have one complaint about the album is I don’t feel it closes strongly. The final three tracks are all slow, and considering the wide variety of styles on display, it surprised me a little to see the band go out with such a strait line approach. Also, closing track “Creator,” while not a bad song, didn’t elicit much of a reaction from me, and I don’t think it’s on par with the band’s better material.
Since accidentally stumbling across Akron/Family during a scene of a movie where a dad finds his son dead of a masturbation accident, they have become one of the rare bands I could listen to every day.
The highest compliment I could give them is they more than any other band have helped fill the void left when the great Jeff Mangum decided to stop making records, and believe me when I say this is high, high praise. It’s exciting to think where they will go in the future, and S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT is a welcome addition to their already impressive discography.
Final Score: 8.5/10
1. Silly Bears
3. A AAA O A WAY
4. So It Goes
5. Another Sky
6. Light Emerges
7. Cast A Net
8. Tatsuya Neon Purple Walkby
9. Fuji I (Global Dub)”
10. Say What You Want To
11. Fuji II (Single Pane)