2000’s Since I Left You wasn’t just a great album, it was an artistic triumph of curated sampling. Containing over 900+ samples, it was amazing the producer-collective didn’t get sued let alone were able to piece the album together in the first place. Since I Left You was a mirage of audio samples all pasted together to create new material, sounding like the perfect after party playlist or roadtrip beach getaway. To me, it’s the soundtrack of nostalgia.
By the time I had come across the record in my teenage years, Since I Left You had reached a level of myth and legend. The Avalanches were almost supernatural in the way that Since I Left You left their audience in awe. Little facts would appear here and there, that they were from Australia and that they were a collective of producers possibly as large and enigmatic as the members of Wu-Tang Clan, but it was still hard to believe that real people had made Since I Left You and not some musical deity.
After a 15-year “hiatus,” it came to the point where no on even expected The Avalanches would follow up Since I Left You. It was hard enough to imagine how they could possibly do it again let alone how they did it at all in the first place. Adding in the fact that the mystery surrounding the group turned them into some mythology like what Frank Ocean is going through now, a potential follow-up carried that same feeling of: “how do you follow up Channel Orange?” When Kendrick Lamar followed Section.80, he tapped into nostalgia and went back to his storied past. He did the same on his next record in fact, but this time traded modern music and nostalgic lyrics for nostalgic music and modern lyrics.
Here on Wildflower, The Avalanches take a similar approach – tap into nostalgia. Described as a “road trip,” The Avalanches have said that this new record is supposed to “capture that feeling of growing up.” By tapping into the nostalgic aspects of their own past, the record not only sounds and feels akin to Since I Left You, but was nostalgic for me because it reminded me of listening to Since I Left You when I was in high school: two-fold nostalgic function.
Even further, Wildflower has something that Since I Left You didn’t: features. Not just any features however, we’re talking rap features. If there was any genre I went to after my house/electronic phase (Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Girl Talk, Justice, The Avalanches, etc.), it was hip-hop. Kanye West’s College Dropout to be more specific (technically rap). From there I branched out into indie rock and deeper into hip-hop/rap, so let me tell you how excited I was to see that MF Doom & Father John Misty would be on the same record. Anxious as I was however, Danny Brown really killed it on this record, delivering what I think are actually the two best verses of his career.
Like my musical tastes post Since I Left You, it was heartwarming and exciting to see that the Avalanches addition of rap met with my own. Like the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time video game, voted the #1 video game of all time in almost every list, the game plays on the same kind of nostalgic tendencies. Aging in the game and having to repeat past events and challenges now as your older character, the game taps into the nostalgic aspect of growing up. With Wildflower including rap features like Danny Brown & MF Doom, as well as indie rock vocalists like Toro y Moi, Father John Misty & Ariel Pink, it’s almost as if as my musical tastes expanded as I grew older, so did theirs.
As odd as an Avalanches record with obscure features is, the oddest aspect is that a second Avalanches record even exists at all, and that it’s actually really good. I could go on all day about how great this record sounds, and honestly feels. I had it on at work when it debuted on Apple Music a week early and I didn’t even notice that the record had been on repeat for five times in a row. Wildflower hits that sweet spot, ripe for the best record of the Summer. Like its predecessor, Wildflower is another artistic triumph, and nothing says it more than when the extended cut of “Frankie Sinatra” rolls around for a victory lap after the record’s finished. Somehow they’ve done it again.