The Avalanches-Wildflower_First Impressions

The Avalanches bring a particularly bright aesthetic to the DJ/producer idiom on their new album Wildflower.  Vivid samples loop and sing with a vast collection of features bringing the album through a series of stylistic shifts.  The group succeeds at creating heavy, banging beats that stand-out from the genres of trap and EDM that currently dominate the club scene, however, the dense sampling occasionally makes the beat a bit over-indulged in bright sound leaving little room for subtlety.

With colorful single “Frankie Sinatra” coming early on the album, the group first explores quick-hitting pop tunes with catchy vocals.  The hook  from”Subway,” gradually disappears into the looping vocal melody on “Going Home.”  After this, Toro y Moi’s signature vocal sound joins a jolting electronic beat with textural percussion for “If I was a Folkstar.”  In the middle of the album, the band takes a turn for the theatrical, almost sounding like a cartoon on “Zap” and “The Noisy Eater,” before riding out on a bunch of quick-hitting ethereal tunes.

Although the group mostly thrives on samples from dance-genres, they manage to logically mesh together a wide ranging pool of different sounds.  “Frankie Sinatra’s” retro groove state juxtaposes the psychedelic ideology of “Colours” with maximalist attacks on the senses coming in the middle of the album.  Also, the contrast presented between the rap features and the bright melodies brings an interesting, not-often-heard sound to the rap world.

Each track relies more on the main sample than the rhythmic foundation, which presents extreme pros and cons.  When considering the music of someone like DJ Shadow, the focus is placed entirely on percussion.  Here, the beat seems to follow each sample.  Obviously neither idea is perfect, however, Avalanches could afford to leave the constantly evolving samples at the way-side for breaths of quiet with emphasis placed on the beat.  Occasionally, the evolving samples and pulsing just become overbearing and obnoxious.

Overall, Wildflower has a lot of give and take.  The huge, layered beats serve as a fun listening experience when striving for a singable pop hit, but the album often feels a bit jumbled with excessively cartoony sound ideas.

DB

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