Album Review: The Avalanches – “Wildflower”

avalanches-wildflower

There’s a ton of people who waited with baited breath for the release of The Avalanches’ new album Wildflower, a record 15 years in the making. I missed all the hype for the album much in the way I missed The Avalanches’ first album, 2000’s Since I Left You, which is considered as one of the best electronic albums of last decade. The band is known for a style called “plunderphonics”; They mix samples from various other media to formulate their unique sound.

The album starts with the quick intro  “The Leaves Were Falling” before going into “Because I’m Me”,  pseudo-throwback that is equal parts funky and danceable.

The third track, the single “Frankie Sinatra” has an infectious beat and a brilliant chorus sample. Throw in a splash of MF Doom and you get a good song, then Danny Brown lights the mic on fire and you have a straight banger. This song will be stuck in your head for the foreseeable future.

“Subways” and “Going Home” both feature a certain ambiance you’d find in a Passion Pit release,  which is definitely a good thing. This ambiance hits a pinnacle on “If I Was A Folkstar”, the best song on the album, which plays up a cool ’90s vibe mixed in with it’s Queens of the Stone Age sampling and vocal production reminiscent of Her Space Holiday.

“Colours” is just gorgeous, and there becomes a point in this where it ends and “Zap!” begins that you might not even notice if you’re not paying attention. Getting to hear Biz Markie on “The Noisy Eater” is a nice treat even if the Jerry Lewis sample kind of annoys. The title track hits us quickly but leaves a nice impression. Now we’re at the halfway point and “Harmony” and “Live a Lifetime Love” are just okay. “Park Music” and “Living Underwater (Is Somethin’ Wild)” just tracks to coalesce the album, they sound cool but don’t work as individual tracks. I have to give them production as a whole credit for the awesome clipping job on a track by track basis.

“Wozard of Iz” is not as good a song as it could be, which is disheartening as Danny Brown returns here and isn’t quite as impactful. “Over the Turnstiles” and “Sunshine” are essentially the same song with the close clipping and similar staging. “Sunshine” and Light Up” are well enough little track. “Kaleidoscope Lovers” is middle of the road for sure. It does not do anything memorable. “Stepkids” is awesome and has that sense of whimsy from earlier that I’d hoped would’ve returned to this voyage sooner. The closer “Saturday Night Inside Out” features Father John Misty..

Overall, Wildflower delivers some stellar music, varied and ridiculously catchy on some parts. Other times its just backing noise for a purely original way to present it. It was cool to see some songs get presented in the way that they do. The Avalanches seem to have an understanding of what they want each production to sound like and this record is no different. It’s a premeditated assault on your attitude. It leaves you relaxed but cautious. Serene but waiting for more. It gives to the listener as much as it takes. Its funky, jazzy and really freaking cool.

Rating: 8/10

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