The Avalanches: Wildflower

The wait is finally over for fans that have eagerly anticipated the sophomore release of The Avalanches, but has time and hype spoiled the sound that we have craved for so long?  The answer to that question is a reluctant yes, but that in no way implies that Wildflower is a terrible album; it simply missed its due date by about thirteen-ish years.

One of my biggest issues with this LP is the extreme lack of cohesion throughout the twenty two tracks that are presented to us.  I understand that the band may have intentions with this direction, but many tracks that I loved are ruined by an abrupt change in sound that does not compliment the other parts.  For example, the buildup to The Wozard of Iz is incredible and has my head bobbing every time, but when Danny Brown comes in around the 1:37 mark, the music loses its direction and the lyrics don’t help to make the sound any less confusing.  From my perspective, it looks like the group was trying to move away from the continuous flow that Since I Left You had from cover to cover, which is great because I would not want an album that sounded just like their previous efforts.  The problem that arises from this change is the hesitation to allow each track to stand out on its own.  I feel like there is still a rather large attempt to get these songs to flow together from track to track and that style should either be kept or abandoned; not somewhere in the middle.

On a positive note, some of the best songs on this album exist within the first half of the record.  The opening track (technically second track) kicks off everything with a catchy Jackson 5-esque groove accompanied by Camp Lo with an acceptable set of verses that carry the song to the ending.  The following track is Frankie Sinatra and it represents the bouncy and vivid sound that Frontier Psychiatrist held on the previous release.  However, the features on this track are an incredible letdown, but I will mention that later.  Following that, the next six or so songs are arranged beautifully and feel completely independent and capable on their own.  Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not have a great arrangement at all and suffers because of it.  Part of this is due to the fact that three of the best songs that were released as singles prior are all a part of this first half.  From a metaphorical standpoint, The Avalanches decided to shoot all of their artillery fireworks off in the first five minutes of the show and lit sparklers for the finale.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the features that come up every now on then on this album.  When I first heard of the insane lineup of artists to work on this project, I was elated.  Danny Brown, MF Doom, Ariel Pink, Father John Misty, Toro y Moi, the list goes on.  That being said, I could not have been more disappointed once I finally sunk my teeth into the songs that these individuals are on.  Three phrases that immediately come into my mind are dispassionate, out of place, and forced.  The biggest offender of this is Danny Brown, which pains me to say.  All of his lyrics are utter nonsense and his drug rhetoric simply does not fit with the “faceless” music that The Avalanches are known to create.  To elaborate, every vocal section from Since I Left You could not be pinpointed to a specific person or artist, at least without using an online source to find the sample.  That was part of the magic that sparked the feeling of an unknown presence.  Like a series of voices speaking to you by cycling through different radio stations in order to form a melody and story from numerous different sources.  Some might say that it is unfair to judge the band like that, but a perfect example of features used effectively is on the song If I Was a Folkstar, which blends the traditional methods of plunderphonics along with a nice vocal melody from Toro y Moi, which sounds like it could have been taken from a completely different song.  The talent and capability are present, but the execution unfortunately falls flat on many of these feature tracks.

I honestly wish I could like this record more than I do, but there are far too many problems surrounding these tracks for me to be completely on board, which is truly a shame because I firmly believe that the group has the potential within them.  If this album had released three years after Since I left You, it would have been a complete success.  Unfortunately (for the band), music did not stop when The Avalanches did and their sound has not evolved deeply enough to match the standard that we have in the year 2016.  My honest opinion of this album is a 6.5/10.

Author: rednpinkfish

Kaelan Deese is a junior at the University of Oklahoma. He is currently attempting a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in Spanish. Kaelan is a pretty cool cat so feel free to scratch him behind the ears.

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