The Avalanches. MF DOOM. Danny Brown. These types of collaborations only feel like they can be born between the gossip of music fans. The talks over internet message boards, the discussions at lunch tables among students, the whispers between record store employees. But to actually have a tactile release of something that sounds like a dream song is surprising, especially when two of the three artists tend to value patience in their fans over releasing official music. And to be honest, I don’t know what’s more surprising: a new song released by the Avalanches or that the new song is as simple as it is.
Granted, nothing was ever going to live up to the hour long odyssey of Since I Left You. A voyage through a myriad of ideas and lush pop melodies that felt as whimsical as it did passionate. And I had prepared myself to not be instantly enamored with anything new from the Avalanches, especially with the fluctuating lineup since their debut. But nothing prepared me for how barebones it actually sounds. The carnivalesque hip hop beat stomps back and forth in a Seussian manner, while the reliance on a single calypso sample for the hook feels like a regression from their multilayered introduction. Even Danny Brown sounds like a toned down version of his manic character, with a relatively straightforward rhyme pattern emerges with references to being on top of the world and drinking and dabbling in drugs. The only one who seems in complete control is MF DOOM, but his verse is so buried in the mix it can’t help but seem like an afterthought. Frankie Sinatra is not a bad song; in fact it is cartoonishly addictive to listen to and I will binge it throughout the summer. And even though they have a singular album under their belt, the expertise in transposing one dust covered sample into the next will reveal their true brilliance. It’s hard to guess, but Frankie Sinatra seems like a detour from the crate-to-radio interconnectedness that made their maiden voyage a global experience feel personal. But the obvious sacrifices made to feature such variation of featured artists don’t show the Avalanches starting off their new album cycle on the right foot. And I don’t know if I can wait another sixteen years for them to redeem themselves.
– T. Pennington