Review Summary: ‘Get a drink, have a good time now. Welcome to Paradise’
The first few words say it all; sit down, grab your favorite drink, and lose yourself in an album that embodies everything fun about life.
“Since I left you, I found the world so new.”
The phrase depicts everything wonderful about the human spirit; despite something as emotionally disrupting as heartbreak, these words choose to illustrate the silver lining. It reflects the resilience of the soul, illustrating the joy felt when we choose to look at the world through optimistic lenses. Besides, only the first half of the sentence is chosen as the albums title. Perhaps The Avalanches were trying to exemplify the idea that it isn’t the hardships in life that define us, but rather how we react
to the obstacles; that is why the rest is left open ended, a message that is upon the listener’s due diligence to make of as he or she pleases.
Another common motif found throughout the album is transience. There’s an almost incessant flow of sounds and words that are associated with travel, such as the horses, flights, boats, cruises, journeys, etc. While these things may be merely reflecting the impermanence of the album (as it never seems to settle on one idea or another, for better or worse, for entirely too long throughout the hour-long running time), I’d like to imagine there is a deeper meaning. Since I Left You
is an album that chooses to celebrate existence rather than fear it. The Avalanches worship the impermanence of life by embracing the novelty of moments such as our first love, first party, first time trying something new, first time being heartbroken, first time rebounding from a failure, and so on.
Instrumentally, the whole album sounds like two teenagers recorded it outside a German discothèque in the early 70’s on each of their own 8-track players, later piecing together whatever they got in a drug-induced comedown perpetuated by as much fear and depression as ecstasy and awe. The Avalanches dabble in instrumental trip-hop, hip-hop, piano/lounge music, jazz, pop, and so much more across its 18-track span, all of it created by layering individual samples on top of one another to create whole songs. “Frontier Psychiatrist” might be the best example of The Avalanches’ insatiable adoration for out of context sound bites. The song starts off with dialogue that sounds like it was pulled straight out of a 50s sitcom and transforms into a symphonic collage of narratives; the characters spin wild tales of cowboys, Indians, men with golden eyeballs, coconuts, and even parrots! You’ll find yourself declaring, “that boy needs therapy!” and just about every other immediately catchy hook from this classic song after the first time you hear it.
It is unfair to talk about Since I Left You
track by track. It needs to be looked at holistically in order to be completely appreciated simply because it is
a single entity; listening to “Electricity” or “Avalanche Rock” by itself or the entire album in an arbitrarily chosen order would be like throwing a dart at a book and starting to read from the page you landed on.
In the end, The Avalanches manage to drift off in the same flimsy lifeboat that we see on the cover, hanging on for dear life with each other as they traverse through the ocean. And while sometimes the water’s choppy and the waves are turbulent, I’ll be damned if they aren’t enjoying every moment of it.