Album Review: “Wildflower” by The Avalanches
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Trying to measure The Avalanches by any regular music metric is almost impossible. Not because they aren’t musical, because they certainly are; rather, The Avalanches cannot be classified. Their sample-based music is beyond any traditional ideas of genre or style, and instead of being restricted by any sort of physical limitations that come with instruments, they can follow any muse they want to follow. For these reasons, “Wildflower” stands completely on its own in terms of sound and structure, a beautiful prism of sound that’s as impossible to define as it is entrancing to listen to.
A loose concept album about journeying from the city to the countryside while on acid, “Wildflower” samples everything from The Beatles to “The Sound of Music.” This breadth of samples is reflected in the music, which does feature original contributions in addition to the various samples. The twisted carnivalesque bass of “Frankie Sinatra” (which features a stellar Danny Brown and MF Doom) sits alongside the bustling psychedelic pop of “If I Was a Folkstar.” Even though the narrative is never clearly expressed, it’s easy to feel the shift from the claustrophobic city to the comely countryside via the mood and tone of the music.
The Avalanches paint in pastel colors, creating art unlike anything else being made. Never is this more apparent on the album than on the song “Kaleidoscopic Lovers.” Composed of a series of moving parts, twinkling chimes layered alongside samples that seem to be going backwards and forwards at the same time, and centered around a honeyed vocal turn from singer Jonathan Donahue, listening to it feels like pure bliss. With “Wildflower,” The Avalanches didn’t just make an album; instead, they built a home.