Review Summary: Since I Left You is a fantastically provocative slice of dance music that will leave you feeling strangely hypnotized.
Despite their wintry name, The Avalanches have willingly tied themselves to the wonderful sounds of summer. My first glorious exposure to Since I Left You
felt like taking a vacation and traveling to an immaculate beach with sunny skies, a cool ocean breeze, jovial seagulls, and beautiful women. Of course, Since I Left You
is much more than a day at the beach; it's an eccentric sojourn in a chaotic, yet compassionate milieu where love and confusion go hand in hand. With this frame of mind, The Avalanches turn dance music on its head with a shocking heap of samples which flourish in the presence of sheer intimacy.
The Avalanches draw their samples from numerous sources, ranging from many obscure and a few vaguely familiar sources. Hundreds upon hundreds of these sounds hover above the group's infectious rhythms, but they never interrupt the flow of the album. Rather, they benevolently guide the music to unanticipated and strangely majestic places. Some of these emerging segments of spirited impulse sound like happy accidents, yet many signify the group’s unmatched dexterity. The nimble beats that germinate beneath the fanciful arrangements of vocals, sound effects, and textures amount to incredibly memorable and amusing tracks.
Since I Left You
is wildly experimental but balances its ventures into abstract pandemonium with a delightful pop sensibility that makes the entire record accessible and enormously rewarding. Songs like "Electricity", "Live at Dominoes", and "Etoh" burst with the animation and rapture that quickly form the LP's backbone. The record lends itself to a constant feeling of movement as the pursuit of affection and peace come to the forefront. "Little Journey" and "Flight Tonight" become emblematic of the album's prominent goal: escapism. Since I Left You
boils down to that never-ending quest for happiness without knowing precisely what it is you want and how you will get it. Still, the images evoked by the album suggest that being engulfed in intense love and warmth is the real paradise.
Furthermore, The Avalanches amicably deliver some of the most blissful combinations of sounds in a highly zealous fashion. Ranging from the bleeps of manic gizmos to the galloping and whinnies of horses, the sounds on this LP are both astoundingly diverse and beautifully absurd. The production is sonically rich, and the record can periodically lull the listener to sleep with its tranquility and, without warning, grab the listener and open the ears to the sounds of collapse and mayhem. The best example of commotion that the album stirs up is "Frontier Psychiatrist", in which The Avalanches unload a playfully erratic barrage of vocal samples and instruments. The superb, detailed melody, decorated with unforgettable vocal hooks like "That boy needs therapy" and "You're a nut! You're crazy in the coconut", could have been conjured up in the mind of a madman, yet the song's progression is surprisingly focused and orchestral, soon giving way to a pleasant outro that brings the track to a tender close. The sounds unleashed by The Avalanches are indeed derivative, but their technique is impressively original.
Not all the tracks on this album are as perky at their cores and stick to more personal territory, such as "Two Hearts In 3/4 Time" and "Tonight". "Tonight" paints a picture of a lonely jazz club and bittersweet infatuation and, like several other songs on this album, feels as if it has been pulled from another time period. Since I Left You
is timeless in that it draws influence from so many eras to the point that they smoothly converge into a single unit without fail. No matter what facet of music The Avalanches are toying with, the concepts of unrequited love and wishful thinking always permeate their visceral sonic interactions. The sense of longing comes full circle on "Close to You" as the group constantly nudges the listener closer to the dance floor. It never feels like The Avalanches are striving to blow the listener away or send the listener on an emotional tilt-a-whirl; instead they are simply aiming to entertain. Nevertheless, the record's evident humility makes the music all the more powerful. The agreeable sense of humor and the devotion to flow provide for a cohesive and lovely piece of dance music.
Ultimately, Since I Left You
sounds like the musings of a scatterbrain searching for the beauty in life. When all is said it done, the album comes together as an overwhelmingly catchy one that can appeal to just about anyone. As a result, The Avalanches prove themselves to be proficient architects of pure sonic euphoria. Both complex and engaging, Since I Left You
is a thinking man's dance album as well as a perfect paradigm of plunderphonics that incorporates exuberant pop music. What's not to love?
Live at Dominoes
Close to You