The Avalanches released their first album 20 years ago Since I Left You, a brilliant work of sampling that established themselves as cult sensations. They didn’t release another album for 16 years, a lifetime for most bands, until Wildflower in 2016, when they bridged the gap between sampling and more organic songwriting. They aren’t waiting another 16 years for a new album, releasing their third album today, We Will Always Love You.
One of the first things you will notice is that this record has 25 songs -- a whole 25 songs. A bunch of the tracks are rather short (“Pink Champaign is 12 seconds and “Star Song.IMG” is 10 seconds) but the LP moves quickly from one idea to the next. It also is one of the most star-studded LPs of the year. Whether it is MGMT, Mick Jones, Jamie xx, Blood Orange, Karen O, Johnny Marr, Perry Farrell, Rivers Cuomo, Kurt Vile, Denzel Curry or Leon Bridges, the Australia duo manage to go deep into the rolodex and label bag (as they should, the majors are still booking considerable profits) for this LP.
Their music has always felt a bit scattershot and zany that is part of the appeal – it is offbeat and colorful. However that lack of focus at times can lead them down cul-de-sacs that can be hard to get out of. By and large, this album feels pretty seamless as songs flow into one and other. It has transformed the band from samples into original songwriting that is still often strange and lively. That is embodied from the onset with the psychedelic and synthy “The Divine Chord” with MGMT & Johnny Marr.
There is the jubilant and summery “We Go On” with Cola Boyy and Mick Jones, while “Music Makes Me High” has the best elements of a party packed into a song with just the right touch of disco.
“Gold Sky” bridges folksy spoken word from Kurt Vile with a walking, gospel-influenced track that feels like it belongs in the sky. The project finishes with “Weightless” that feels like the final transmission before heading out of range on a deep space mission.
We Will Always Love You is a lot of fun, but there are pensive moments, especially as we get to the end of the album. It may be long, but it moves quickly because the songs are short and sweet. The various collaborations bring something new to the table and The Avalanches often push those artists to do something they don’t normally do with each track. There is something uplifting and inspiring about this that feels very needed as we head into what could be a gloomy holiday period.
Get your copy of the record here.