Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes (4AD)
While providing a humorously avant-garde interpretation of yesterday’s mainstream, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti bridges the gap between the extraterrestrial and the hyper-real. Louder Than War’s Maren McGlashan gives you the low down on Mr Pink’s latest album.
The band’s latest LP Mature Themes continues to explore the combination of Ariel Pink’s many influences – the fuzzy glow of 1970s radio, the unapologetic weirdness of Zappa, the cool enthusiasm of New Wave and Western popular culture. At the center are the lo-fi aesthetics that have become the Haunted Graffiti speciality.
I won’t lie, there are moments on Mature Themes that pass my personal eccentricity threshold. Namely, “Nostradamus and Me”Â and “Schnitzel Boogie.”Â The titles alone paint a sufficient portrait of just how strange those tracks are.
That being said, what works on Mature Themes really, really works. There are moments of AM radio perfection, most notable in the Byrds-like track “Only In My Dreams.”Â It even includes a cover of Joe and Donnie Emerson’s 1970s track “Baby,”Â which is one of the record’s best offerings. In addition, the smart song structure and playful hooks in “Kinski Assassin”Â and “Mature Themes”Â make for more album highlights.
Artists like Ariel Pink prove that popular music can be rebranded into a different dimension via avant-garde aesthetics, strange lyrics and unusual recording techniques. Some people get ruffled at the mention of pop music, so to clarify – this ain’t no Top 40 stuff. It’s not even in the same universe. It’s the marriage of mainstream and avant-garde, with ample goofiness mixed in. Ariel Pink may be from different planet, yet he still wears his liking for generations-passed pop music on his sleeve. And truthfully, why hide it? Mature Themes, in all of its low fidelity glory, gives the world thirteen more reasons to pay attention to Ariel Pink.
All words by Maren McGlashan. You can read more from her on LTW here.