Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Seemingly undaunted, Seth Olinsky, Miles Seaton, and Dana Janssen recruited engineer and co-producer Chris Koltay, and enlisted nine other musicians to create the most far-reaching, margin-breaking set of the band's career to date.
  2. The group stays true to its avant-garde musical roots with Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free, the noisier, louder follow-up to 2007's "Love Is Simple."
  3. 70
    This album takes major steps beyond its predecessor, "Love Is Simple." It adds a streak of joyful African funk, with sputtery rhythms and guitar curlicues.
  4. Akron/Family are in a state of constant flux, ever changing, so Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free strikes me as no great sea change (no more than usual, anyway). It’s just the latest iteration of a band that’s never twice the same.
  5. It’s a bold album, even in its prettiest, most pastoral moments.
  6. Set ‘Em Wild, more so than many albums like this, at least has the quasi-coherence of forming out of the above-mentioned process, and if anything, that makes it more interesting than just a collection a songs.
  7. Filter
    The trio's skronky bits and folksy mannerisms are in place, often found competing within the confines of a single song. [Spring 2009, p.96]
  8. This album veers all over the place, but it's united by spotless production, eerie control and a confidence that's well deserved.
  9. Even though the album may be too erratic to cohere into anything thematic, its eccentricities do an excellent job of keeping it interesting.
  10. Mojo
    The end result just about captures the riotous, magical bustle of their live shows, so seek it out. [Jun 2009, p.101]
  11. Fans of Animal Collective will be familiar with the expressive freak-out moments here, but Akron/Family are secretly far more at home nestled somewhere between Fleet Foxes and Led Zep in your collection.
  12. Mood-wise, there’s less of the unhinged joy of their last outing, "Love Is Simple." However, those moments of ecstasy have more power in smaller doses, and making that choice has allowed them to expand their palette while retaining their identity.
  13. What emerges from Set ’em Wild, Set ’em Free is the realization that Akron/Family is maddeningly unknowable and, essentially, a product of all these influences rolled up into one gigantic, take-it-or-leave-it stringball.
  14. The band's now-routine gospel-like chanting grows tiresome by album end (they miss Vanderhoof's vocals), and, as was expected, Set ‘Em Wild doesn't necessarily expand the band's sound so much as further splinter their interest.
  15. Both "Meek Warrior" and "Love Is Simple" are strong albums, but there’s a sense of unfulfillment in them--Akron/Family seems to be testing itself in new areas rather than completing a task. On new album Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, though, that changes, as the band delivers a masterpiece.
  16. On their fourth album, Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free, they've simultaneously intensified and refined that blend, even as they've shaved off one of their original four members.
  17. Q Magazine
    Seriously good stuff. [Jun 20009, p.134]
  18. 70
    Here they expand their primarily folky sound, importing rhythms from abroad and morphing electronic ticks and stutters into a field of chirping crickets.
  19. Despite all of these positives, and no real negatives to be found, Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free isn’t quite a perfect work--it’s much too clunky, much too unorganized to be considered as such--but it’s a considerable record, one that’s sure to remain a highlight of this decade’s final chapter and afterwards.
  20. In the Akron/Family universe, disorder is part of the order, and Set ’Em Wild advances that yin-yang philosophy through music that binds disparate genres through an expansive imagination and force of will.
  21. This is the work of artists confident enough to embrace a sound that makes them happy.
  22. On Set ’Em Wild, Set ’Em Free, the band has produced something practical, with less clutter, and many times better.
  23. I doubt they’ll be circling back to the sound I felt so strongly about, but even the mildly frustrating Set ‘Em Wild, like all the band’s records, has songs I’ll be listening to for years to come.
  24. Uncut
    On the fifth album this East Coast trio make it patently clear this is not the same band whose 2005 debut placed them in the rustic shadow of former Young God Records labelmate Devendra Banhart. [Jun 2009, p.83]
  25. Under The Radar
    The trio's first steps are unquestionably firm. [Spring 2009, p.64]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. TJ
    Aug 3, 2009
    While it bored me at times, I believe this is one of their best. Gravelly Mountains of the Moon is a sublime track.
  2. VaughnA.
    May 27, 2009
    These guys reek of the same kind of, "oh don't you just love what we're doing", bullshit that makes me despise Conor Oberst so These guys reek of the same kind of, "oh don't you just love what we're doing", bullshit that makes me despise Conor Oberst so much. If I want self-adoration I'll go to Bare Naked Ladies concert. Full Review »
  3. ChristianP.
    May 6, 2009
    one of the best of the year. they've grown immensely.