'We Will Always Love You': The Avalanches Release Their Third Album
Melbourne-based duo The Avalanches are a notoriously hard group to pin down stylistically, due to their unique composition of so many different musical movements ranging from trip-hop to disco. One term which they tend to be labelled with more than any other is Sampledelia, and though this may sound like one of the hundreds of genres that Spotify invented this year, it’s a sound that is very much alive across many iconic acts such as DJ Shadow and A Guy Called Gerald. After releasing only two albums prior to this in their career spanning two decades, The Avalanches arrive late in the year to show how their unpredictable sound is conveyed in 2020.
The respect and reputation that they have built up over the years has allowed them to compile a rather enticing feature list, and after a couple of passable intro tracks we are greeted with the first big-name recruit in the form of the title track featuring Blood Orange. A chillwave-inspired instrumental is topped off with some childrens’ choir vocal samples in classic Avalanches style. The only thing letting it down is the short run time, it ends up coming across as a somewhat half-baked idea.
The eyebrow raising feature list only grows further on the next track, which enlists help from none other than MGMT and Johnny Marr. Andrew Van WynGarden’s vocals sound seamless on this glossy but funky beat, and the subtle guitar embellishments provided by Marr are executed tastefully.
Unfortunately after this track we are greeted with another one-minute interlude which fails to really go anywhere. This ends up becoming a running theme scattered across the tracklist of We Will Always Love You. A strong interlude cut will give the listener a short break or detour from the main tracklist, enriching the listening experience overall - but sadly all tracks like ‘Solitary Ceremonies’ and ‘Carrier Waves’ achieve is making the album appear stagnant and lacking in momentum.
Despite the small sense of oversaturation in the tracklist, there are still flashes of brilliance to get excited about. The sampled orchestral string section on ‘Reflecting Light’ is stunning and acts as a perfect backdrop to the inspired vocal performances. And the track ‘Gold Sky’ featuring perhaps the most surprising guest, Kurt Vile, also comes off really well. His typical laid-back vocal delivery sits on top of a blissful instrumental.
As a full album, the only thing We Will Always Love You is guilty of is being slightly overworked. All it would require is someone to just trim the fat a little bit, turning this 25-track release into a more conventional length of around 14 songs would give the record a lot more staying power. Despite some undeniable highlights, The Avalanches could do with applying more of a ‘quality over quantity’ approach in future releases.