The Avalanches are following up their 2016 sophomore album Wildflower a lot faster than they followed up their classic 2000 debut Since I Left You. Last month the Australian production team released “We Will Always Love You,” a staggeringly beautiful new collaboration with Blood Orange featuring prominent samples of Smokey Robinson and the Roches. We still don’t know much about the new album, but today we get to hear another single from it.
The new track, “Running Red Lights,” convenes a surprising list of collaborators. The main vocals are by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, singing the praises of Los Angeles. Alabama-born, LA-based rapper Pink Siifu also pops up to recite lyrics from the masterful Purple Mountains track “Darkness And Cold,” resulting in a writing credit for the late, great David Berman. The Avalanches previously worked on two other tracks with Berman, the demo “A Cowboy Overflow Of The Heart” and the Wildflower track “Saturday Night Inside Out” featuring Father John Misty.
Apologies for this Stephen Malkmus-centric tangent in an Avalanches post, but it’s wild to think of Cuomo, who took the Pavement sound mainstream, and Berman, whose Silver Jews once featured Malkmus and represented a more abstractly artistic vision of that slacker-indie sound, contributing to the same song. The two figures seem like opposite poles within the Pavement continuum. Leave it to the Avalanches to bring them together via bars from a lo-fi rap iconoclast.
Here’s a statement from the Avalanches’ Robbie Chater:
“Running Red Lights” didn’t start out as a defining moment; “a single” as it were. But Rivers
responded to our fuzzed-out Spacemen 3 inspired jam with such open heartedness, that we soon dropped all pretense and got down to the heart of the matter… loss.
We love that wide eyed, elated, almost evangelical Los Angeles sense of possibility that he tapped into. He captures that feeling that comes on the other side of the abyss, when you have lost everything and so then, there is nothing more to lose.
The way life is so beautiful and overwhelming and heartbreaking all at the same time. Rivers, like us, is always chasing the melancholy, that space…between the notes.
David had agreed to share his words with us for the middle 8 a few years back.
It’s a strange feeling releasing this now, 6 months after his passing, but we are so glad he got to hear the music, and it means a lot to us that he really liked it.
David wrote to me often through some dark, dark years and really pulled me through.
…Running Red Lights…is about such times.
Every moment is a gift. So live fearlessly. If you love someone, tell them.
Without connection…where are we?
As Rivers sings in the fade, “We are all we have…”
We have to have faith that that is enough.
The “Running Red Lights” video, directed by Greg Brunkalla, is released in Berman’s memory. It features dancing from Erik Cavanaugh and an appearance by LA icon Angelyne. Watch below.
“Running Red Lights” is out now on Astralwerks. I am very curious about how this new Avalanches album will sound.