Pop/elec­tronic

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tim McNa­mara

Wild­flower The Avalanches Mod­u­lar/EMI Few sopho­more al­bums have as­sumed such mythic sta­tus as Wild­flower. Fol­low­ing up a de­but such as 2000’s Since I Left You was never go­ing to be easy. Its crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess has grown in sta­tus with each pass­ing year, aided in part by the con­stant spec­u­la­tion about its suc­ces­sor. The Avalanches — Rob­bie Chater, Tony Di Blasi and James Dela Cruz have teased, promised and, it ap­pears, lied about when Wild­flower might see the light of day, turn­ing the project into an ur­ban myth. Af­ter stops, starts, cryptic teasers and fabri­ca­tions, that el­e­ments of var­i­ous com­pleted, half-fin­ished or aban­doned side projects pro­gressed by the group since 2000 now find their way on to Wild­flower is fit­ting. Serv­ing as forks in the road, these ex­pe­ri­ences have con­trib­uted not only to the album’s de­lay but also to its rich­ness.

It’s drip­ping, like its pre­de­ces­sor, with weird, won­der­ful and ob­scure sam­ples: the trio has fash­ioned a nos­tal­gic, care­free and mood-set­ting jour­ney travers­ing psychedelia, hip hop, am­bi­ent elec­tron­ica and odd mu­si­cal ter­ri­tory that largely lives up to the hype. The Leaves Were Fall­ing is the first of many glo­ri­ous in­stru­men­tal in­ter­ludes wo­ven through­out Wild­flower that serve to con­nect the meatier of­fer­ings, fea­tur­ing per­for­mances from Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, Mer­cury Rev’s Jonathan Don­ahue and Sil­ver Jews’ David Ber­man. Be­cause I’m Me shines like a sum­mer day, all good-time vibes, vin­tage strings and the con­tem­po­rary rhymes of Bronx duo Camp Lo. It’s joy­ous fare, sadly not matched by what fol­lows, the ca­lyp­soin­spired first sin­gle, Frankie Si­na­tra, fea­tur­ing Detroit rap­per Danny Brown and MF Doom, which quickly grates with its repet­i­tive vo­cal sam­ple and cir­cus-like swing.

Third sin­gle Sub­ways, in con­trast, is an album stand­out, an airy groove marked by warm bass and thick and var­ied sam­ples that, like those through­out Since I Left You, make for an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. The Noisy Eater is no­table mostly for the lyri­cal stylings of Biz Markie and a sur­pris­ingly cleared sam­ple of the Bea­tles’ Come To­gether, while Colours is a laid-back, trippy groove re­flec­tive of much of Wild­flower, where strange lines such as “Af­ter dark and the bars are slow, where do all the mer­maids go?” make sense. As one of the first songs pro­duced fol­low­ing Since I Left You, album closer Saturday Night Inside Out wraps up Wild­flower in po­etic and dreamy fashion.

The Avalanches ad­mit they “nearly gave up more than once” through the long pro­duc­tion of Wild­flower. Ill­ness, in­er­tia, dis­trac­tions and la­bel col­lapses all played their part, but the fact they’ve emerged with this emo­tive album de­spite these chal­lenges — and the hefty weight of ex­pec­ta­tion sur­round­ing any­thing Avalanches-re­lated — is im­pres­sive. It seems good things re­ally do come to those who wait.

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