I’ve been listening to the new Avalanches album on repeat since it landed on Spotify in the UK on Friday. The Australian electronic dance duo’s first sampletastic album Since I Left You was released in 2000. That album, featuring the instantly iconic Frontier Psychiatrist, was a point of mutual appreciation for me and my new boyfriend (now husband) at the time.

His likes tended towards indie, while I was a bit of a raved-out raver, and Avalanches ticked a few boxes for both of us. Then they disappeared, and their comeback album of 2016 passed me by entirely.

The new, 25-track, multi-guest album is pretty long, at about 71 minutes, and opens with the spooky Ghost Story, and the voice of a hesitant-sounding young woman: “Hi, I’m sorry I left so suddenly… I will always love you...”, as if communicating from somewhere beyond the ether (but identified, more prosaically, by the band as a teenage break-up voicemail recorded by the artist Orono).

The second, gospel-influenced track, Song for Barbara Payton, references the tragic, alcoholic Marilyn Monroe-lite actress, who died – far too young – in the 1960s, interspliced with a brief reprise of the sample from track 1.

Title track We Will Always Love You, featuring Blood Orange, combines shoe-gazing rap with a rapturous chorus. The Divine Chord, with guest artists MGMT and Johnny Marr, and Interstellar Love subsequently introduce a welcome dose of joyful, whirling psychedelia.

Ghost Story Pt. 2 comes with a reprise of the first track, together with added Clanger noises. But then we’re back to laidback dreaminess with Reflecting Light, albeit heavy on the chipmunk-singing (a term I’ve coined because it brings to mind the ear-splicing, animated Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, which features a bunch of animated, wannabe pop star chipmunks). There’s a surprising amount of chimpmunkery around on the popular music scene these days, so maybe those damn rodents were onto something.

Oh the Sunn! goes more upbeat, unexpectedly featuring Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell. We Go On continues the dancey vibe, belying the content of the really rather mournful lyrics, sung by Cola Boyy and a sampled Karen Carpenter: “We go on, hurting each other“.

Until Daylight Comes, featuring Tricky and children’s chanting, gets more sinister, with the refrain “I was the light, I was the light“. Meanwhile, Wherever you Go, featuring Jamie xx and Neneh Cherry, makes sure we don’t lose that banging, transcendent vibe: “on the dance floor, that’s where you get yours“.

Music Makes Me High bring the much-needed party to 2020 (as long as it’s a party for no more than 6 people, and you’re all outside standing 2 metres apart).

Later, Running Red Lights, sung by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, is uplifting and joyful in sound (though I guess partly a paean to lovestruck traffic violations). It’s instantly catchy, but I can see it becoming unbearable after multiple listens, so if you’re in it for the long haul this is nowhere near the best track on the album.

The album closes with Weightless, which is composed mostly of self-indulgent ‘space beeping’. The band say their new album explores “the vibrational relationship between light, sound and spirit”. Elsewhere I read that it was inspired by the impact of Carl Sagan’s wedding proposal in 1977. The EEG of his loved-up wife-to-be Ann Druyan, Creative Director of NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Message Project, was transmitted into space as part of an audio time capsule that aimed to communicate elements of the human condition to extra-terrestrial life.

This all sounds a bit pseudy concept album, but why not? I really love, perhaps will always love, We Will Always Love You.

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: