The Avalanches - "Frankie Sinatra" (Singles Going Steady)

The Avalanches' first track in 16 years, "Frankie Sinatra" sounds distinctly like their work, but to simply call it a return to form would be inaccurate.

Emmanuel Elone: After decades of silence, the Avalanches finally return with a single that lives up to its hype. As far as hip-hop goes, "Frankie Sinatra" is about as wonky and kooky as it can get, with reggae rhythms, odd vocal samples, and the melody of John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" playing towards the end. As a whole, the foundation of this song feels like something that MF Doom would have produced, which is fitting since the New York rapper spits a few bars on it. Alongside him is Danny Brown, and while their verses are not as up-to-par as one would expect them to be, they are still crazy and pack a ton of personality. Taken as a whole, though, "Frankie Sinatra", as left-field as it is, would have benefitted from being a bit more erratic and spontaneous. It heads in that direction, but never reaches its destination in that regard. [7/10]

Pryor Stroud: Sample-hoarding DJ collective the Avalanches have been off the map since their seminal new-millennium LP Since I Left You, an 11-track collage of mash-up dance tracks stitched together from record-bin R&B and errant pop instrumentals. Their first track in 16 years, "Frankie Sinatra" sounds distinctly like their work, but to simply call it a return to form would be inaccurate. Structured around a singsong Calypso sample and a prototypically wild-eyed verse by Danny Brown, it wears its novelty on its sleeve; it's eccentric -- one could even say crazed -- and proud of it. To be sure, this doesn't bear any of the funk-tinged suavity that was so prominent on Since I Left You, but it's hard not to be transfixed by it. "Off this rocker / He's off his rocker", Brown's verse begins, his words offering a perfect description, not of the song's eponymous subject, but of the track itself: "Frankie Sinatra" always feels like it's about to tip over, careen off some psychological edge, and succumb to total insanity. [6/10]

Chris Ingalls: From their long-awaited second album (their first was released in 2000), the Avalanches' "Frankie Sinatra" is an interesting, eclectic stew built around a sample of "Bobby Sox Idol" by Wilmoth Houdini and has an exotic flavor -- the steady dance beat combined with the melody from another time gives the track a dancey yet dreamy feel. Just when you think things can't get any weirder, a snippet of "My Favorite Things" creeps in. There's a bit of a novelty vibe to the song that may be its ultimate downfall, but it may also be the surprise cult hit of the year. [6/10]

Chad Miller: Weird but funny. The music is pretty catchy even if it's unremarkable. By the second verse though, everything starts to grow old. By then the lyrics are pretty boring, and the music has run its course. [5/10]

SCORE: 6.00





'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.


Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".


PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.


Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.


Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.


Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.


Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.


Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.