People dismayed that The Avalanches’ return to “live” performance mostly turned out to be DJ sets are missing the point – the Australian duo are first and foremost weapons-grade cratediggers rather than an act you’d want to sit and watch play, like, instruments. Wildflower, their first record since 2000’s classic sample collage Since I Left You, could just as easily be titled Here’s All the Cool Shit We’ve Heard in the Last 16 Years, With Some Cool Vocalists We’ve Met Too, as there’s no shame in calling this what it is: another patchwork masterpiece.
Pinpointing the genius of what the duo actually do is as difficult as it is pointless. ‘Frankie Sinatra’ is more of an electro-swing remix of Wilmouth Houdini’s ‘Bobby Sox Idol’ with Danny Brown and MF Doom trading blows rather than anything you could call songwriting, but damn if it isn’t excellent. Similarly, I’ve not spotted where the samples heavily deployed on ‘Subways’ and the particularly fabulous ‘Wozard of Iz’ come from yet, but when I do, it won’t stop me humming them any time the sun’s out.
True, you might expect more progression from a band who’ve been AWOL so long, but their proudly displayed influences have always contained so much wistful nostalgia that it seems a moot point. Yes, this sounds a lot like Avalanches circa 2000. It also sounds like the pop music of the 1940s, or 60s, or 2020s. It sounds like summer.