Release Date: Dec 11, 2020
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Electronic, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Alternative Dance
my voice is still gonna be here "Hey. I'm sorry I left so suddenly. I just wanted you to know I'm okay here. It's hard really, being, you know, like so far apart and, all this distance, and the silence, you know?" On its surface, this is the saddest Avalanches project. Its most ….
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.
The most impressive thing about the record is the way it simultaneously exists as a collection of pristine singles and a complete whole. Half the 25 tracks sound great on their own, the rest connecting into something different and no less impressive. There's a real genius in crafting something that has the same impact in four-minute slices as it does strung out into an hour plus experience.
Life, death, and the cosmos set the boundaries of the Avalanches' ambitious third album, We Will Always Love You. The record begins with a farewell voicemail--a final communication, we are led to believe, from a young woman who has passed away--and it ends with the Morse code-like bleeping of the Arecibo Message, an interstellar transmission carrying information on the human species into the infinite beyond. In between those poles, the Australian group continues doing what it has always done: spinning the sounds of disco, soul, easy listening, and other nostalgic staples into luminous, ludic shapes, turning musical collage into a sparkling, four-dimensional fantasyland.
There was a sizeable chunk of the ’00s and ’10s in which the safe bet was on The Avalanches being a one-album wonder. 2000's Since I Left You exuded an almost intimidating air of perfection, but when they finally reunited the results did their legacy justice, and now this, their third record, diversifies their sound while still having one foot in the plunderphonic tradition. One could spend a whole review just focusing on the eclectic and star-studded guest list, but The Avalanches are remarkably effective at blending the myriad contributions into a unified whole.
Albums by the Avalanches used to introduce themselves like dreamy street festivals -- crowd chatter, hot pavement, snippets of music -- arriving on the sounds of togetherness and life. We Will Always Love You, the duo's celestial third album, arrives alone as Orono Naguchi's sombre voice comes through the gentle blue fuzz of an answering machine and sets the scene. We Will Always Love You is about that terrifying, galactic solitude, about the enormity of space and the enormity of love, about stars and light and being all alone together. Inspired, in part, by Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan's cosmic love story, the record is narrated by an impressive cavalry of interstellar guides.
After inducing the overstimulated feeling of rebounding in a carnival from heartbreak (Since I Left You) and soundtracking a summertime caravan across their native Australia (Wildflower), the Avalanches looked to space for their third album. More specifically, Robbie Chater and Toni Di Blasi became fascinated with the Golden Record, a kind of time capsule aboard NASA's Voyager spacecraft. Plans for a spoken contribution from the creative director of the Voyager Interstellar Message Project, Ann Druyan, fell through, but that's her on the album cover, her image from a television screen snapped by a camera and processed through a spectrograph.
In a year that's been the sort of dystopian hellscape normally reserved for Orwellian fiction and Morrissey interviews emerge The Avalanches, smuggling out 25 tracks of pure audio sunrise. If 2016's 'Wildflower' was the hedonistic adolescence, then 'We Will Always Love You' is their self-reflecting autumnal years. Whether it be the lyrical redemption arc of 'Gold Sky', the seize-the-day mentality of 'Take Care In Your Dreaming' or the outstandingly catchy refrain of 'Music Makes Me High', there is an ever-present desire to uplift and persevere in the face of adversity.
Few worlds feel quite as alive as one created by the Avalanches. Whether it's the busy, cartoony bombast of Wildflower or the welcome to paradise that kicks off Since I Left You, it has always felt like being invited in by friends of friends—the people at a party you'll only know for a night but talk about for much longer. It's what makes the solemn start to We Will Always Love You so jarring, as Orono Noguchi (of Superorganism) leaves an overly sincere voicemail message where she pleads with a partner: "I'm gone I'll still be here, I'll still be here and I will always love you." It's not until the backing singers come in on the gorgeous third track We Will Always Love You (ft.
The Lowdown: In a recent interview with the BBC, founding member of The Avalanches, Robbie Chater, said of We Will Always Love You, "We were thinking a lot about signal transmission and how every radio broadcast from the last hundred years is still floating out there in space … It's a beautiful thought to me that all these broadcasts are still out there, surrounding us. " It's easy to feel this focus in the album, an expansive cosmic compendium that finds its tracks crackling and churning into one another. The context of the album's production -- how the band was inspired by the idea that sampling old records is like summoning old spirits and by the recording of Ann Druyan's heartbeat for the Golden Record just after Carl Sagan proposed to her -- helps, but it isn't strictly necessary.