Having had to wait 16 years for The Avalanches to follow-up their seminal debut, 'Since I Left You', the gap between 'We Will Always Love You' and 2016’s 'Wildflower' feels minuscule in comparison. Any worries that The Avalanches settling into a (relatively) regular album release schedule will dampen their creative fire is quickly dispelled, however, with a listen to any of the album’s 25(!) tracks.
The obvious thing to jump out when you consider 'We Will Always Love You' is the sheer range of guest collaborators, which includes artists as diverse as Johnny Marr, Vashti Bunyan, Rivers Cuomo and Tricky.
What’s remarkable, though, is the Melbourne duo’s ability to synthesise the essence of these featured musicians into The Avalanches’ DNA such that the cameos enhance the tracks without ever detracting from them.
If 'We Will Always Love You' has a theme, it’s that of a radio show beamed in from outer space. Interludes link songs expertly, and the fact that there are so many distinct vocalists mean it feels more like a mixtape than a traditional album. With that said, it’s probably the most consistent LP of The Avalanches’ career thus far with almost any three minute-plus song a strong candidate for a lead single. The sunny calypso of 'We Go On' brings together the talents of Latino disco luminary Cola Boyy with The Clash’s Mick Jones to fantastic effect, and the crooning of Sananda Maitreya – better known to you and I as Terence Trent D’Arby – elevates Reflecting Light to a haunting torch song.
So, the crate-digging tour de force which powered Since I Left You has been replaced by a more straightforward song structure for the most part, but it doesn’t mean there’s any less invention on show. 'Take Care Of Your Dreaming' fades up like an incoming message from a distant planet before rapid-fire verses from Denzel Curry and – perhaps the album’s most inspired turn – Sampa The Great turn it into a vital call to arms.
Elsewhere, Blood Orange’s signature ruminations provide depth to the choral chorus of the title track, and Jamie xx, Neneh Cherry and CLYPSO team up to make 'Wherever You Go' a night-time rave tune to soundtrack the first contact.
Strings swell, beats pound and synths conjure a world from afar, resulting in an experience that never fails to hold your attention. It’s an album that’s somehow halfway between DJ mix and a greatest hits compilation, and arguably the best of The Avalanches’ trio of releases thus far. 'We Will Always Love You?' Back at ‘cha.
Words: Joe Rivers
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