Friday, August 17, 2012

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: "Mature Themes" (album review)

Anyone who decides to call himself Ariel Pink has got to be a weird dude.  You don't even need to know anything about Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's new album Mature Themes to figure that out.  A listen through though will serve to reinforce one's suspicions.

This time around the musical focus is on exploring nerdy '80s New Wave and post-punk influences.

Tracks like "Is This The Best Spot?" put Thomas Dolby through a Devo filter for a frenzied, stuttering take on a science fiction.  The opener, "Kinski Assassin" takes both spastic and childlike to the extreme, making it a parody of a time and place.

An unmistakable dark Joy Division gloom is coupled with a slightly Middle Eastern vibe on "Early Birds of Babylon".  On the whirlwind "Only In My Dreams", it seems like nearly every influence imaginable has been swirled together to create a technicolor aural kaleidoscope.

A handful of songs take things even further.  "Schnitzel Boogie" sees Pink channeling Captain Beefheart for an absurd track.  The bassline of "Driftwood" is the only consistent element as the rest of the song's elements wander to and fro freely and seemingly without design.

Pink's greatest slight of hand trick may be "Symphony of the Nymph".  There is no rational reason why the song should be catchy, but between oddball lyrics and repetition it becomes an infectious track.

Everything gets modernized with "Pink Slime".  In listen to the track one can get a sense of how the techno geek pop evolved into the bedroom electronic music of acts like Passion Pit.

While it's easy to appreciate the level of complexity and number of elements that went into these songs, it is more difficult to sit down and listen to them.  Well-constructed music is not always enjoyable music.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti play Lee's Palace in Toronto on September 19th.

Best tracks: "Symphony Of The Nymph", "Is This The Best Spot?"

Track listing for Mature Themes:
  • Kinski Assassin
  • Is This The Best Spot?
  • Mature Themes
  • Only In My Dreams
  • Driftwood
  • Early Birds of Babylon
  • Schnitzel Boogie
  • Symphony of the Nymph
  • Pink Slime
  • Farewell American Primitive
  • Live It Up
  • Nostradamus & Me
  • Baby

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