On their 2000 debut ‘Since I Left You, The Avalanches took the art of sampling to an entire new level. Made up entirely of snippets from other people’s work, it was perfectly put together, and in doing so they created a sound totally of their own. With tracks like the uber chilled out title track, and the completely insane ‘Frontier Physchiatrist’, they managed to cross over to the mainstream and make big hits of their own from their cut and paste style. Just how many samples the album was made up of would be impossible to tell, but it was no doubt in their thousands. No doubt the clearing process was a logistical nightmare. It’s been sixteen years from their debut till now. Could it be that it’s taken so long to get out because of the time it’s taken to get everything cleared? Creating something new may seem something of a breeze to them in comparison to the legal work that creating something new from something old has no doubt been.
Their second album takes on a different approach to producing music. It is still sample heavy, and there can be no doubt to who you are listening to. That same style they forged on their debut is still present on ‘Wildflower’. But what they have done on the new album is to use brand new vocals from a whole host of featured singers and rappers. Toro Y Moi, Biz Markie, and Father John Misty are amongst those making contributions. And they have made some clever choices in their guest vocalists. Not one of them sounds out of place, or like they have just been put there for their status.
There are 21 tracks on total, but fear not. This is no three hour concept album. The more traditional ‘song-based’ tracks are held together by short sample tracks, some just a few seconds long. The vocals fit perfectly into the samples, sounding seamless, like they belong together. It would be difficult to pigeon hole them and put them into a genre. They are psychedelic, laid back hip-hop, indie, dream pop. Okay so I’m spouting now. Their sound is simply The Avalanches. It’s their own groove. Wildflower is the obvious follow up to ‘Since I Left You’, despite it being sixteen years in the making. I found it difficult to get to grips with at first, especially on the release of the first single ‘Frankie Sinatra’. When an album breaks down so many boundaries with the brilliant cut and paste techniques as ‘Since I Left You’ employed, having a constant vocal flowing through it can take some getting used to. But it was the best way they could go.
‘Subways’ makes a fantastic single, and really represents the music they are making now. Its chilled out grooves and cool, smooth vocals give it the perfect sound for summer. But there are so many songs on the album that could have the same chart credentials. Album opener ‘Because I’m Me’, ‘Colours’ and ‘Kaleidoscopic Lovers’ are all mellow, trippy tracks with a real hippy vibe. The Toro Y Moi collaboration ‘If I Was A Folkstar’ stands out from the rest with a melody so catchy it will be rattling around your head for hours after a mere couple of listens. ‘Messy Eater’ with the legendary Biz Markie is beyond cute, and sits somewhere in between cool hip-hop track and kids TV theme. Each track adding something different to the mix.
Whilst there are distinct similarities between this album and their debut, it is without doubt a progression. It has everything you loved about ‘Since I Left You’, with an extra sprinkling of magic. It is an album that has kept fan waiting for a long time. But is it worth the wait? Yeah, I reckon it is. But let’s just hope there isn’t as bigger gap between this and the third album.
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