It’s going to be a weird feeling when an artist I’ve loved from the get-go drops off the face of the earth only to return 16 years later. Recently, a craze has swept over music where beloved bands return in grand (Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine) and not so grand (Pixies, Modest Mouse) fashion, even some who leave the game unchanged despite the album being rather decent (Dr. Dre). The thing these five have in common? Not a single one I listened to seriously before 2012. Their lavish return meant nothing to me because I wasn’t around for the struggle of their absence. Now you can add The Avalanches to that list. It’s been 16 years since Since I Left You came out, two years since I first heard it. The release of “Frankie Sinatra”, and the subsequent announcement of Wildflower, should mean nothing to me, but they kinda do. This is a special moment.
What unquestionably does excite me is Danny Brown and MF DOOM’s guest appearances on the single, the former one of my favorite current rappers, the latter one of my favorite of all-time. The single answers the age-old question of what would happen had an emcee spit over an Avalanches beat, as “Frankie Sinatra” sports the trademark characteristics of the group, with sample-heavy production dating back to an era before the technology to even create such a song. Borrowing heavily from calypso and electro swing, “Frankie Sinatra” plays out like a demented carnival, the cast of kooky characters yelping over it, and the ones featured in its unhinged music video, only confirm this.
The key thing that would stop many from falling in love with The Avalanches once again is the appearance of the two emcees, and rightfully so. With “Frankie Sinatra”, The Avalanches have gone from DJ's always flaunting in the foreground to ones taking a step back to accommodate others (think Disclosure, Flume, even Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories). With their peculiar style of beat-making, though, they can’t help but draw attention to themselves. For what it’s worth, if both Danny Brown and MF DOOM were taken out of “Frankie” and placed over a more conventional beat, their verses wouldn’t feel very different. Their flows are both ordinary by their standards. This makes “Frankie Sinatra” a classic case of single material, with a clear, linear structure. The bridge though, sampling The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things”, is phenomenally well-done, as is most other elements of this track.