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Akron/Family Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free

Ambition is a good thing—as long as you know what to do with it. Unfortunately, on Set ’Em Wild, Set ’Em Free, Akron/Family rarely does. The quartet’s fourth disc swings wildly between Appalachian freak-folk and Sonic Youth freak-outs, West African guitar jams and kitschy electro-folk, arena-ready riffage and luscious four-part harmonies. Only rarely does the music coalesce into something memorable. While opening track “Everyone is Guilty” blends Afro-funk’s swing and Jimmy Page’s guitar without losing its sing-along appeal, and closing tunes “Sun Will Shine” and “Last Year” provide haunting vocal mediations, the album’s remaining 40 minutes only offer sparks of brilliance. Unfortunately, there’s never enough to start a bonfire.

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