Wildflower Album Review


Jeremy Hargrove, Staff Writer

Australian electronic duo and “plunderphonics” extraordinaires The Avalanches made a surprise comeback mid-July with their second studio album Wildflower. Their initial release, Since I Left You, was released 16 years ago and they’ve been in the process of creating this new record ever since.

The wait was to be expected, given their first release was a beautiful amalgam of 18 tracks that were composed almost entirely of samples from various vinyls and movies throughout the decades. Their original release was acclaimed for its unique style and fantastic use of sampling. While it’s one thing to pull samples, it’s another entirely to create an album that flows into itself so well and using the album as a means of telling a story about love and loss.

While maintaining their original style of heavy sampling, many guests make their appearance and add their own flavor to each track. Some of these artists include Danny Brown, Camp-Lo, MF Doom, and even a surprise appearance by Biz Markie. The whole record has a very fun laid-back tone. It all sounds like something you could hear on a nice summer day and is the perfect music for hanging out with some friends. The intro track “The Leaves Were Falling” gives a sign of what is to come on this album: good times, almost a callback to the “simpler times” of one’s youth.

The album’s full release was preceded by a teaser track titled “Frankie Sinatra”. It features Detroit-based rapper Danny Brown as the primary vocalist and a guest verse from MF Doom. This track is fun, funky, and a perfect example of what The Avalanches are capable of and what makes them so enjoyable.

A favorite track of mine on this album has to be “Because I’m Me.” The instrumentation is filled with trumpets blasting and children laughing, which really ties back to the theme that this album seems to be trying to get across. The vocals give the song an extra boost as they are very fun and energetic like the track should be. It is such a strong start for the album that even manages to end with the beginning of the next track, giving the same sort of flow that made Since I Left You such an engaging and audibly interesting album.

One real issue with this album is that some of the tracks get a little repetitive or they seem to have a bit of a slow build-up. It unfortunately feels as though they were trying to pad the album by adding filler. A prime example of this is the track “Subways” –  it seems to be one of the weakest tracks on this record. It just sort of drags on with the same looping sample before just sort of dropping. It has no real unique identity or sense of worth on the album. Thankfully, there are very few examples on this album.

The tracks do not really delve into very heavy subjects (the song “Noisy Eater” is quite literally just about Biz Markie eating cereal which begins to border on too childish or silly), which is a nice change of pace from so many performers trying to go down the road of being “deep” or “powerful.” In their previous release, this was a bit of an issue as it was a bit more difficult to digest at times. That market has become too saturated since 1999 and The Avalanches know this.

All in all, Wildflower was worth the wait and any fans of their first album will enjoy it. Even if you have not given the first album a listen, I recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of anything with a lighter sound or upbeat sampling mixed with  strong vocals. While this was not entirely what was expected of a new release, they managed to succeed in releasing something that not only reaches, but surpasses all expectations.