‘Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free’ is Akron/Family’s follow up to 2007’s well received ‘Love Is Simple’ and their first self produced album and as a three-piece, after the departure of founding member Ryan Vanderhoof.
In the past, whilst having their obvious strengths, they have been somewhat of a demanding listen, requiring a little time and patience. Not so, with ‘Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free’, which is by far their most accessible and immediate collection of songs to date.
So what has changed? Well, they seem to have markedly extended their record collection but rather than being swamped by their influences, they have breathed new life and freshness into their sound. The most notable aspect is the Ali Farka Toure-like guitar parts on ‘They Will Appear’ and the beautiful ‘River’.
Meanwhile, the excellent ‘Creatures’ bizarrely sounds like it could have come off Massive Attack’s ‘Mezzanine’. Whilst the trippy ‘Many Ghosts’ could sit seamlessly on Radiohead’s ‘Amnesiac’. The title track falls back into more conventional Neil Young-style territory, but the trick they managed to pull off brilliantly, is that it all sits together seamlessly and coherently.
The only (very minor) gripe is that when they do rock out, on ‘Gravelly Mountains Of The Moon’ and ‘MBF’, rather than being rousing it simply jars the ear.
It’s turning into a good year already: another very, very good record.