Well, that was unexpected… When a band returns after more than 15 years of absence, one would expect them to have majorly changed up their style, or suffered a decline in quality, but The Avalanches seem to have largely picked up where they left off with Frankie Sinatra.
2001’s Since I Left You is a near-undisputed classic of its decade, and turns up in many “Best Albums of All Time” lists. The Avalanches have been teasing its follow up ever since, and its been in a state perpetual “coming soon” for years. Guest rapper Danny Brown even teased this particular track as far back as 2012, so it’s fair to say expectations are high. Luckily, The Avalanches (along with Brown and MF DOOM) are more than capable of following through.
Immediately ignoring any pretence of bombast, or myth-making, the group wisely avoids treating Frankie Sinatra as a spectacle. The track itself is built around an infectiously catchy sample from Wilmouth Houdini, with a simple 4/4 drum beat, and horn samples, and much like their older work, seems to be constructed entirely from pieces of other records. It’s not as dense as much of their earlier work, but that seems only appropriate given the two guest vocalists.
Said vocalists are both displayed at their best on the track. Danny Brown always has a manic energy to him, but set against the lighthearted backdrop The Avalanches give him, he comes alive. He sells simples lines like “I’m so high, you’re so high / if I take another sip, then I just might die” in such a way that they sound like personal mantras, and he perfectly embodies the eccentricity the track is going for. MF DOOM has a very different energy, although he is no less strange. DOOM has always been an extremely eloquent rapper, and that’s a trait that’s more than represented here – “from more stocky stock / known for his illy right hook to make Rocky block”. His vocal style is mature and grounded, but his lyrics are unfailingly strange, and he feels right at home on Frankie Sinatra.
It’s rare for a comeback to be as smooth as Frankie Sinatra, but The Avalanches have pulled it off gracefully. It genuinely seems like their style of music simply takes a very, very long time to pull together, and one can only hope that the upcoming Wildflower can live up to Frankie Sinatra.