The Avalanches have finally returned with a new record, and it’s fairly good. Thank heavens. Wildflower is brimming with positive energy, and is a worthy, if lopsided follow-up to the acclaimed Since I Left You. The music is carefree, graceful, and extremely accessible, with an open-ended structure that makes the listening experience feel like a vast and joyous journey.
Core tracks are connected by gorgeous instrumental interludes, meaning the record flows effortlessly in a unified, summery package. Wildflower promptly sets a jubilant tone with “Because I’m Me”, and the rest of the album follows suit with breezy beats and psychedelic tones. The feature of guest vocalists is what really sets it apart from SILY: some work well, others less so, but they are all cohesive collaborations.
Most of the miscues occur in tracks that feature rappers (“Live a Lifetime Love” is an unwelcome distraction, whilst “Clumsy Eater” is charming in its absurdity), whereas the indie pop songs are generally a success. Wildflower’s one significant blemish is its lacklustre final third, which tends to drag out the tail of the record. After a while you’re just a little fed up of waiting for it all to end, which is unfortunate considering the strength of what precedes the slog. The nostalgic novelty doesn’t wear off as such, but it does reveal the album’s dependence on the feel-good sensitivities of Summer, and I wonder if the experience relies too heavily on its seasonal warmth.
Even so, Wildflower is a solid return, and I hope we get to see another album from The Avalanches sooner rather than later. They’re clearly well equipped and fully capable of creating a brilliant record — Wildflower will assuredly age more favourably if it’s followed by an excellent continuation, becoming the start of a rewarding new Avalanches era. As of now, it’s a welcome sequel that generally pushes the right buttons and almost, almost, gets it spot on.
7 out of 10
Wildflower, The Avalanches’ long-awaited follow-up to Since I Left You, has arrived in one piece. One bouncy, sunny, protracted piece. It comes out of the blocks strong. “Because I’m Me”, for all intents and purposes the opener, is a dynamically mixed old-meets-new summertime soul drive with serious charm. The track throws a gauntlet down to the rest of the album, which does a serviceable job of picking it up again.
The Avalanches’ 2000 debut is a daunting work to live up to, but the opening half of Wildflower holds its own — albeit, admittedly, through sheer force of bombastic sunshine. “Colour” and “The Noisy Eater” are personal highlights. The former is a seamless psychedelic dream, and the latter is so joyously silly that I can’t help but love it.
My warmth does fade, though. Wildflower is an hour long, and I’ve found myself clock-watching each listen. The latter tracks lack edge, and the ease with which I slip into boredom does leave me wondering just how striking the openers really are.
Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here. The Avalanches have returned, their plunderphonic talents seemingly intact. This felt like finding out whether an engine’s dead. There’s some promising, even vigorous revs in Wildflower, but not that roar of life. Not yet. Fingers crossed for a refined follow-up-follow-up appearing before 2032.
7 out of 10
It’s been a long time coming, but The Avalanches have given us a new record with a lot to like about it. A sun-kissed tracklist makes it a timely release and gives enough of an Avalanches signature to satisfy fans of their cult classic debut, Since I Left You. Besides that, Wildflower sees an emphasis on making something simply fun to listen to, with Nickelodean-infused tracks like “The Noisy Eater” making for some of the best play time on the album.
As expected from the group, known for their plunderphonic composition, sampling is generally creative, engaging, and expansive throughout, with most transitional segments working extremely well and the whole release sounding cohesive. Unfortunately, Wildflower does fall down towards the end, with the summery, Disney pop melding together while the transitional segments become more of a staple. What results is a lot of fun ideas which are never given enough of a chance to make an impression, and I find myself checking my watch in the closing minutes.
It’s a shame given the overall quality and cohesion of the release, but it isn’t a disaster. It’s a solid return for The Avalanches, and feels like a strong start: let’s hope they will continue it more speedily than they did this time round.
7 out of 10