But if that album [Wildflower] felt like the world’s most jumbled playlist, We Will Always Love You has, as they say, a better algorithm. Now reduced to a duo of Robert Chater and Anthony Diblasi, the Avalanches are still dedicated crate-diggers, unearthing obscure oldies at every turn. But this time, they go lighter on the samples and heavier on post-trip hop soundscapes and contemporary singers, making for recombinant pop that feels joyfully seamless and organic.
The record begins with a farewell voicemail—a final communication, we are led to believe, from a young woman who has passed away—and it ends with the Morse code-like bleeping of the Arecibo Message, an interstellar transmission carrying information on the human species into the infinite beyond. In between those poles, the Australian group continues doing what it has always done: spinning the sounds of disco, soul, easy listening, and other nostalgic staples into luminous, ludic shapes, turning musical collage into a sparkling, four-dimensional fantasyland.
Like the other two Avalanches albums, We Will Always Love You is an odyssey. Each track feels like an encounter with some new character or a scenic passageway in between outposts.
A sense of interconnectedness flows through “We Will Always Love You,” and Chater said the process of working with live singers isn’t that different from selecting found sounds. “It’s almost like sampling,” he said, “in trying to find the right vocalist, to match the music with someone who seems like they’ve got a certain spirit.”
That so many disparate talents have been corralled into such a cohesive whole is testament to Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi’s vision, with samples meticulously stitched together from a mass of voices and an underlying concept of remembering those singers no longer with us.
As they’ve grown older, they crave transcendence over hedonism; it’s why the album is slower, warmer, more contemplative and mellow overall.
In many ways, We Will Always Love You is The Avalanches’ own Golden Record, tracking their sonic DNA through an epic list of collaborators who have influenced their sound in some shape or form over the years while exploring love, human connection and our place in the universe.