Thursday, December 22, 2016

Albums of the Year # 4 The Avalanches

Very much a summer record somehow. I posted this first several months back.


The Avalanches second record Wildflower came out a few weeks back, sixteen years after its predecessor Since I Left You. There's probably never been a greater gap between one lauded and commercially successful debut album and its follow up. The delay it seems was partly down to issues within the band itself, but also due to the painstaking process of putting tracks together, searching for the perfection inside their heads, the logistics of getting guests in on the deal, clearing samples and so forth.


So what have we got? A masterpiece to my ears, and certainly one of the very best albums of a year that's been terrible for Rock deaths but outstandingly good for actual records. This is very near the top of the heap. Initially I didn't listen to it, put off by the single that preceded it Frankie Sinatra, which I found deeply irritating in itself, though its absolutely fine within the context of its parent album. Just got round to Wildflower itself it and it will now be played and replayed for the rest of 2016 and far beyond.

In truth, with reference to Frankie Sinatra, none of the tracks on Wildflower make much sense listened to in isolation because they're all parts of the whole. It needs to be listened to the whole way through. The record is a neat synthesis of the driving objective of the Beach Boys Pet Sounds, Sly & the Family Stone There's a Riot Goin' On,  De La Soul's 3 Feet High & Rising and the Beastie Boy's Paul Boutique, all transposed twenty five, forty five or fifty years on. An otherworldly and quite brilliant collage of modern living and experience filtered through the prism of Pop Culture and memory. A thing of absolute beauty. Childhood revisited through loving recreation and imagination in the same way as the best Wallace & Gromit moments, something painstaking and tortuously slow in terms of its actual production process but made to seem effortlessly easy and immediate in its finalised form. Quite wonderful!!!


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