ST/II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT
Feb 28, 2011 Issue #35 - Winter 2011 - Death Cab for Cutie
Akron/Family offer up another full-length on Dead Oceans and continue loosely with the trajectory (or restless non-trajectory) they initiated on 2009’s Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. That was their first album as a trio, and was a sprawler, with the band reaching in several ambitious directions, re-defining and refining the band’s knowingly weird blend of styles, and injecting some classic rock and other new elements. With ST/II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (phew), the folk is further expunged, but the freak still runs plenty strong.
The story of the album is as obtuse as its title, with the label claiming to have received only four song fragments and a tracklist written in crayon after several missed deadlines, and the band opting to send it directly to the pressing plant for fear of leaks. A put-on? Perhaps. Fans and label folks should be pleased with the results, regardless. It’s pure Akron/Family, all good vibes and good fun, earnest but playful, and all over the musical map.
“Silly Bears” opens things up a lot like the last one did, with African-flavored guitar runs and an insistent beat, regaling listeners with a story about a few bears seeking honey in an ancient forest. Slow jam “Island” explores modern atoll living, climaxing beautifully—it’s one of a handful of more introspective tunes, which the group always dependably doles out. “A Aaa O A Way” wanders from weird wordplay and whooshing noises into “So It Goes,” a Led Zeppelin-esque stomp and story about the merits/drawbacks of offering spare change to the homeless. The progged-out and blown-out “Another Sky” is like a noise-rock Paul Simon fronting Yes.
So, yes, Akron/Family remain squarely on the frontline in the battle against bad vibes, and their Shinju TNT is a stylistic trainwreck of the most giddy and heartwarming order. Stay cosmic, fellas. (www.akronfamily.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 9/10