The Avalanches - "Subways" (Singles Going Steady)

by PopMatters Staff

1 September 2016

With bright, catchy melodies and jarring imagery, the current '70s kick takes a turn for the eerie.
 

Morgan Y. Evans: This cut from the new Avalanches record is sort of perfect for people who didn’t think Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson’s The Point was proto-hip hop enough, a colorful brain twist of movement and bubbly sensation that evokes a wide range of emotion. The initial nostalgia inducing cartoon presentation of the video is fun and the animation is weird and great, but once the ‘70s kitsch, cartoon cats and floating bananas wear off you’re feeling good but left with a kind of wistful desire for more genuine connection in the world. [8/10]
  

Andrew Paschal: “Subways” is a colorful collage of high-pitched, overstimulating sounds coming from seemingly all directions, which would threaten to derail the song entirely into meaninglessness if not grounded by the titular lyrical hook and an elegant, euphoric synth line that repeats throughout the track. While lacking in emotional depth, the track is a fitting tribute to the sensory overload of urban life. [6/10]

Paul Carr: The song encapsulates everything that is good and frustrating about their new album. The song is built on a dazzling disco sample with a smooth, crystalline vocal from a young Chandra Oppenheim. However, the song suffers from the annoying loud quiet loud dynamic that compromised their album. The constant fading in and out can become exhausting after a while and the song tails off when the initial bouncy disco sample is replaced by a far less interesting one. In effect what is a gorgeous song can come across as a little disjointed and jumbled. [7/10]

Landon MacDonald: Two months removed from the release of this behemoth, it is even simpler to sum up what we have here. Wildflower is a plunderphonic, nu-disco, neo-psychedelia masterpiece, and one of its shining stars has a new video, “Subways”. It’s one of the best on the record, with its rich colorful palette and joyful movements. That is, even before the children’s choir kicks in. The song sounds like it is sound tracking a film we will never see. Which makes sense, when I found out that some of these songs originated in a cartoon film project. If you haven’t heard Wildflower in full, you really should, it’s hard to grasp the individual moments glories by themselves. Every review of Avalanches anything brings up time, which is a shame, because this song and this record are already timeless. [9/10]

Michael Pementel: The best part of this was the “after-school-special” cartoon music video that was equally surreal and hilarious. The song goes pretty well with the video acting as a score. Bright, fun, a pleasant mix of pop, disco, electronic, and hints of funk. [6/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: With bright, catchy melodies and jarring imagery, the current ‘70s kick takes a turn for the eerie. Both audio and video aim to unsettle. Electronics and lyrics loop over and over, and the song’s strength lies in the delays and lyrics that take it from sweet to off-kilter. It’s hypnotic, and the video takes it over the top with candy-colored vomit, disembodied body parts, and cartoon decapitation. It’s the clean, retro feel of both that makes the irregularities intrigue the most, and “Subways” strikes a good balance between fun and freaky. [8/10]

William Sutton: The third single from Wildflower, “Subway” shares the psychedelic and counterculture stylings of fellow single ‘Colours”. The track is driven by a disco groove and a nice thick bassline that samples a cover of the Bee Gees (who are credited as being an inspiration for the whole album) and vocals from Chandra’s 1980’s punk track of the same name. When matched with the animated video (courtesy of Lost Art) this is a slightly eccentric track that never quite makes sense. Despite the musical richness there is something incomplete about it and its ends up leaving a slightly unsatisfying feeling. Likely to be another polarising release from the band. [7/10]

Scott Zuppardo: The Avalanches are never short on vibes of all shapes, colors, sizes, and dichotomy. “Subways” could’ve been a banger at Studio 54, Twilo, and the Tunnel, permeating the soundscape with a cacophony of vocal samples, infinite loops, and still some grit left to spit shine. A bass line that Bootsy himself might call funky steers the ship but the video is artistic dynamite. Equal parts LSD, to Monty Python, to genius. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: Another track from the Australian band’s long-awaited second album is pretty much what we expect from these guys—lazy, infectious dance beat with plenty of sampling and a comfortable retro feel. The song has laid-back summery feel to it, but it’s interesting that a track about a method of transportation basically stands still—the song seems to be in a holding pattern and nothing particularly exciting is happening. [6/10]

SCORE: 7.22

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