The lucky feckers who bought this album on import weeks ago (you know who you are) will already know how good it is, as do the rest of us who don't have money to burn and patiently waited for the general release date to see if it really lived up to all those glowing reviews. And they've been glowing more than a choirboy who accidentally entered the ladies' changing rooms - the Avalanches have been slavered over by all corners of the press, as everyone from Musik to the Guardian have been queuing up to sing the praises of the Melbourne based-sextet. And who am I to disagree, gentle DiS visitor?
Put simply, 'Since I Left You' is this year's 'Odelay', this year's 'Homework'; oh, to hell with it, Album of the Year so far - it's such a dead cert I had to use capitals. Painstakingly constructed out of over 900 samples, it's been a long time coming - with a gestation period of almost three years (still, it's only a third of the time it took to make the new Stereo MCs album). And it may only be, as the group admit, a tamed-down version of their legendary mix tapes (a kind of Celebrity Soundclash, where Cyndi Lauper lends guest vocals to the Smiths, you know, like you find on Napster and that...) - but woah mama, if these are the offcuts....
If you needed further convincing that the Avalanches are just that little bit more special than the rest (as if...), then rest assured, cause they've been approved by the Queen of Pop herself, Miz Madonna. La Ciccone let them take the bassline to 'Holiday' - the first time she has ever permitted anyone to sample her oeuvre. Said line crops up during the opening, radically-reworked version of the title track and first single - which nevertheless still sounds like a fight between Bambi-era Disney soundtracks and some obscure Northern Soul classic, but with added funk. And boy, does this album have the funk (as opposed to 'Da Funk', naturally).
There's the stuttering electro-funk of 'Flight Tonight'; the chilled faux-Parisian deep funk of 'Electricity'; and 'Frontier Psychiatrist', the glorious bastard lovechild of Ennio Morricone and Giorgio Moroder (the great grandpappy of funk), replete with mariarchi trumpet and daft cut-up vocals from schlocky B-movies and spoken-word tapes. Sans the funk, but just as brill, are torch-blues chanson 'Tonight' and the space-age bachelor pad lounge musak of 'Two Hearts In 3/4 Time'.
Tracks are glued together with little talky bits, or bursts of Hammond organ, making the whole shebang seem more fluid and organic. Like a Jackson Pollock painting, or a Magic Eye picture, it all begins to make messy sense if you concentrate for long enough - with or without the assistance of psychotropic drugs (and if you're ever in charge of the stereo at a party, this album is guaranteed to get the whole joint - ahem - jumping).
So if you thought 'Discovery' fell just on the wrong side of cheese; if you thought Antipodean exports couldn't get any better than Kylie; or if you have ears, then please, for the love of God, check out 'Since I Left You' (Album of the Year, or I'll eat my iMac).
10Amy Bell's Score