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Music

Music Review: 'Wildflower,' The Avalanches

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Avalanches use small pieces of old sound recordings to make their music, like assembling mosaics. Their debut album, "Since I Left You," is said to have used thousands of such audio samples.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FRONTIER PSYCHIATRIST")

THE AVALANCHES: It's the opinion of the entire staff that Dexter is criminally insane.

SHAPIRO: That was 16 years ago, and now the band has finally released a follow up. It's called "Wildflower." Our reviewer, Will Hermes, says it recalls a golden era for the art of sampling.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHAPIRO: The Avalanches make music that's partly about the thrill of discovering weird, old records. On their latest, there's a 1940s calypso.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FRANKIE SINATRA")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Ah, Frankie Sinatra. Ah, Frank Sinatra. Frankie, my boy, don't you know you have the perfect voice to sing calypso? What did they say? Ah, Frankie Sinatra. Ah, Frank Sinatra. Frankie, my boy, you don't know you have the perfect voice to sing calypso. What did they say? Frankie, my boy, you don't know you have the perfect voice to sing calypso. Off his rocker, he's off his rocker.

WILL HERMES, BYLINE: There's also a children's choir singing a Beatles song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE NOISY EATER")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Here come old flat-top. He come grooving up slowly. He got ju-ju eyeballs. He's one holy roller.

HERMES: The Avalanches transform these samples into something more than the sum of the parts. And "Wildflower" shows the group's magic in full effect - that warm, kaleidoscopic nostalgia, conjured through sounds that are familiar, but just barely.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUNSHINE")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Sunshine up above.

HERMES: The groups' vibe taps into the '60s and the '70s, but "Wildflower" is also a throwback to the '90s and early oughts, when sampling was enough of a legal gray area that acts like Fatboy Slim and DJ Shadow were able to make brilliant album centered almost completely around samples. It's way harder and more expensive to make music that way now, especially at this level of detail. But The Avalanches have made another great record. And hopefully the next one won't take them 16 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BECAUSE I'M ME")

THE AVALANCHES: (Singing) Being in love with you.

SHAPIRO: OK, that's how I want to end a week. Will Hermes reviewed "Wildflower" by The Avalanches. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.