None of that is to say that, sonically, Wildflower is much like Since I Left You. By accommodating for guests- and in some instances, live instrumentation- Wildflower is stripped of the Avalanches’ mystique. It certainly isn’t the same type of album as their debut, and ergo, isn’t as good. But it’s not an album that particularly cares to answer to any legacy. It just as quickly props up verses about breakfast as it does meta-referential monologues about its own creation; it’s indebted to the same sense of childish wonder that made The Avalanches worth talking about in 2001 without ever being a disappointment.
Of course, the normalization of features throw the possibility of The Avalanches into peril, daring to fuck up a formula that, admittedly, isn’t welcoming of invaders. For the most part, though, features aren’t deployed for their own sake, preferring to texture the album with a more expansively Avalanches-esque sound; with the exception of MF DOOM’s sucker-MC bluster on “Frankie Sinatra,” and a seemingly absent Father John Misty on “Saturday Night Inside Out,” each guest feels necessary to Wildflower’s plundered pastiche.
When Danny Brown or Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue appear, they offer logical respite to music that subverts expectations of G-Funk and Dream Pop with the weirdness of The Avalanches’ crate-digging aesthetic. That Robbie Chater describes it as a, ‘loose, punky, psychedelic rock’n’roll record,’ is pertinent to this newfound approach to songwriting. After all, Wildflower is just as susceptible to the divine imperfection of looseness as it is the dense sonic architecture of Since I Left You (only on admitted highlight “Harmony” does it err to the side of their own legacy).
If you relieve Wildflower of its contextual weight, it’s rather captivating. In comparison to Since I Left You, it feels better being described in terms of ‘almosts,’ never quite there if not satisfyingly Avalanches-esque. It’s not Since I Left You, but then it was never going to be. It’s Wildflower, the only logical answer to 16 years of anticipation. In the best possible way, results are predictable.