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Le Loup

Family

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Label: Hardly Art

The entire notion of a music “collective” may reek of ill-conceived indie-art pretentiousness, but the Washington D.C. group Le Loup tows the line perfectly between thoughtful, intelligent experimental musical act and over-inflated, self indulgent high pseudo-art. Aside from reigning sonic pop collaborative Animal Collective, Le Loup is the fast-rising new group by which all other indie quasi-art experimentation should be measured.

Tantamount to death is the artist or band that takes itself too seriously, but where that means failure for others presents itself as a masterful piece of work in Family, Le Loup’s sophomore album on the Hardly Art label. The applied notion of collective extended itself to the idea of family as the band chose to isolate themselves in a remote cabin in the North Carolina woods, sans technology and communication with other individuals, in order to produce an impressively organic piece of 11-track, enjoyable art. Helmed by D.C. native Sam Simkoff, who began Le Loup simply as a Craigslist-recruited side project, the band has grown from erratic, unstructured musical experiment on their debut album, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly, to today’s finely-tuned, incredibly focused musical force to be reckoned with.

The results of their nature-inspired, isolated recordings are songs like “Go East” and “Morning Song,” beautifully layering peaceful harmonies atop a sweetly-strummed banjo. Broader and bolder in arrangement is “Beach Town,” a rhythmic track guided by funk-filled percussion and a Beach Boy-like guitar lick. Three songs in, “Grow” allows the album to do just that, with Family soaring to new heights with a folksy rhythm and angelic use of harmony. The album is a soul-stirring journey on a train with no destination and songs like the psychedelically spiritual “Sherpa” offer us a glimpse into Le Loup’s simple, yet cerebral, message on the interconnectedness of life. Throughout the songs on Family, you can’t help but feel mentally and spiritually connected to this group who have, surprisingly, restructured and reconfigured the present day idea of family- surprising, for a merry band of artists formed entirely through an internet classified site. With Family you are tapped in, you are connected, you are a part of the collective. You are amongst family and you can’t help but feel thankful to Le Loup once the album reaches a tranquil end on “A Celebration,” a Sufjan Stevens-like feat of guitar gymnastics executed perfectly and punctuated with an exquisitely harmonized bow.

On Family, Le Loup utilizes harmony, melody and polyphonic percussion to create a celebration of all that life encapsulates. The spirituality of the album never gets jeopardized throughout its melodic twists and turns. The ever-present theme of earth as energy remains constant, giving the album a splendid, yet grounded quality, despite its experimental rock collective concept. Le Loup illustrate a personal concept of the notion of family and in the process, will most likely gain a legion of new fans willing to adopt and share that same ideology.

by KayJay
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