Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Jul 01, 2010 Web Exclusive
A notoriously rudimentary, inchoate home recorder, Ariel Pink has crafted some great pop songs over the course of a litany of obscure album releases. Sadly, they've largely been gems obfuscated in grime, their lo-fidelity a disservice to the brilliant melodic instincts at their core. On Before Today, his 4AD debut, the sonic mire has largely been jettisoned in favor of a cleaner pop sound. But auto-tuned Kanye West this isn't. It's a pastiche of styles, emblematic of a man who obviously has a vast record collection and isn't afraid to dive headlong into his strong command of arcane rock's rich history.
First single "Round and Round" is one of the finer tracks here, a slow-burning pop ditty that sounds like it could've been recorded by Todd Rundgren in 1972. "Beverly Kills" evinces a Prince via of Montreal boogie down fetishization that finds Pink drifting into a pinched falsetto to dazzling effect. And the brilliantly schizoid "Butt-House Blondies" veers from meaty guitar riffs to chiming jangle interludes, with a molten jam psychedelic freak-out borrowing liberally from early '70s Blue Cheer.
Like Beck and Badly Drawn Boy before him, Ariel Pink's artistic cup is overflowing with a surfeit of ideas. And Before Today, while easily his best album to date, still feels like it's just the tip of the iceberg for this staggeringly talented songwriter. It veers haphazardly, hopping from genre to genre, and with a little assistance from a producer to laser-focus, he seemingly has the potential to craft a truly classic LP. But with rough- hewn nuggets this satisfying, perhaps a Dadaist cut-up approach is meant to be his ultimate calling. (www.arielpink.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10