The Avalanches Wildflower XL Recordings
16 years in the making, a perfect storm of health issues, sample clearance and good old-fashioned perfectionism conspired to keep The Avalanches’ second album from the public until now. On one hand, you can’t expect a record meticulously constructed of such a broad blend of samples to involve any kind of quick turnaround. But on the other, the more time dragged on from 2000’s Since I Left You, it became increasingly uncertain as to whether the Australian trio might be able to bring a sense of cohesion and freshness to the project.
It’s hard to think of too many direct points of comparison for Wildflower. It certainly feels like a piecemeal affair; sonically, the blend of woozy psychedelia and colourful electronics is probably most easily comparable to the likes of Animal Collective, but without the sense of well-thought-out cohesion that’s defined the Baltimore outfit’s recent work.
Instead, The Avalanches run the gamut on Wildflower, in terms of both sound and quality. Because I’m Me is a glorious, windows-down sing-a-long, and Danny Brown’s typically off-kilter turn on The Wozard of Iz provides another standout moment. Brown is actually one of the few contemporary artists making the cut here, along with Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi – take, for example, the fact that vocals on Stepkids come courtesy of Jennifer Herrema of the long-defunct Royal Trux, or that Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev and 90s hip-hop staple Biz Markie contribute elsewhere. That’s the feeling about Wildflower that’s difficult to shake – for all its energy, its long gestation has left it feeling a little too stale.