Le Loup starts off their sophomore album Family majestically, with a grand intro of slow but pointed drumbeats and almost choir-like chanting. This is an odd choice to start off an otherwise rather jolly record. It gives a somber church feel, as opposed to the rest of the record, which is a more jovial celebration. Le Loup leans toward the Animal Collective end of the indie-rock spectrum, but much less tripped out and experimental. Each of their songs are broad sweeping gestures, rather than the tight brush strokes of a standard four piece: the D.C. based Le Loup have a rotating cast of at least eight band members!
Dominating are the harmonized, echoing vocals, reminiscent of a Yeasayer, with many more instrumental interludes and much less purpose. The songs are beautiful but lack direction. The record doesn’t feel cohesive as it could, more like a mix of singles when it should flow together more evenly. The songs waver in and out, kind of like a wandering drum circle. This is a nice effect, and while it is indeed lovely to hear how well Le Loup mixes their menagerie of instruments, ranging from banjo (on the organic “Grow,” especially) to bells to their own hands, it takes multiple listens to put it all together. The title track, which comes in the middle of the record, is actually a good focal point and perhaps the pinnacle. It seems that everything is building up to that song, and then building back down.
And while the album doesn’t necessarily have an even flow, the songs themselves are quite good. The opener “Saddle Mountain” is grandiose, followed by the tribal and exciting “Beach Town,” which gives the hippie Santa Monica vibe. This relaxed feeling continues until the tripped out “Family.” The ending notes, especially the second to last track “Neahkahnie” sound like a very internationally hip wedding party (there is a reason the last track is titled “The Celebration”). The record meanders around the path a few times, on an unsure but adventurous journey nonetheless. For those looking for a record that is out of the box yet not overly experimental, Le Loup does nicely.