Monday, 7 January 2013

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes

Ariel Pink has been releasing his lo-fi psychedelic pop for a decade now. Two years ago was the first time Ariel Pink released his music as a group, under the name Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti with 2010's Before Today. It's been two years since it was released and the effects can still be felt all over the world. Lead single 'Round and Round' is a soulful 80s dance track with Ariel Pink's typical psych vibes. The strength of this album has no doubt helped the release of their sophomore album Mature Themes. Ariel Pink's solo material has been released on Animal Collective's Baltimore based label Paw Tracks, but since becoming Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, 4AD has been the home of the Los Angeles psychedelic pop outfit.

Before Today really was Ariel Pink's breakthrough and I’m sure Animal Collective are happy their debutant surfaced so vigorously. Mature Themes like its predecessor is a vintage album. The sounds are a mi between 60s pop, 70s synth pop and 80s new wave. 'Kinski Assassin' kicks off the album in a bewildering style. Listeners know not to dive deep into Ariel Pink's lyrics because what you may find will either devastate or confuse you. The track covers all grounds of rock music and has the odd instrumentals and odd vocals to give it this highly intelligent yet partially gimmicky sound. Likewise on the second track 'Is This The Best Spot?', where the lyrics create a confusing and laughable atmosphere. The structure is brilliant and the lo-fi instrumentals still shine through with distortion on the synthesizers.

The titular track is one of my favourites because of the melody. It also includes one of the best vocals on the album bar 'Only In My Dreams', the lead single and killer indie rock track that matches their previous 2010 anthem 'Round and Round'. Listening to Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti is surreal. The bass patterns on 'Driftwood' are fantastic, though it leaves you wandering what the theme actually is. But that's the point of Mature Themes; the clue is in the name. The odd ball moments are by far the best moments on the album, but the straight up indie pop / rock moments such as 'Only In My Dreams' pay off.

Theirs a period of disbelief and clock checking as the mid album tracks kick in. 'Early Birds of Babylon' fails to leave an impression and 'Schnitzel Boogie' serves no real purpose. Ariel Pink can be forgiven for these tracks because they are clearly kooky, intriguing and different, but they're not really good. The following track 'Symphony of The Nymph' is a return to form for Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. The synths sound great and the variances are a clear standout amongst an album full of amoebic material. 

'Pink Slime' is another synth based new wave / 80s disco track with the traditional weird vocals with effects plastered over. It's a lovely short two minute track, but again, it's not really any good. This material has been heard before in Ariel Pink's earlier material and on the radio in the 80s, or on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. 'Farewell American Primitive' has the best hook on the album. The verse is quite simple with a well-polished guitar and a left sided synth. This is not an album to take literally; it's quite frankly a joke, and a good one of that. You won't find quality with in Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti; you find your inner self fighting to enjoy something that isn't meant to be enjoyed. 'Live It Up' has a lustrous synth riff, with Ariel Pink singing fashionably quiet. 

Another highlight is 'Nostradamus & Me', the seven and a half minute jam. The reverberation has been applied and the good old days of Ariel Pink come flooding back as the rhythm guitar kicks in and the bass starts to sharpen. The vocals are smooth and theirs finally a song on Mature Themes without any pointy edges. It leads the way for the eagerly await closer, 'Baby'. Mature Themes started off with a bang, but started at midnight, when the party was in full effect. The final few tracks are the next morning mug of tea's and toast's with the sun rising over a night full of mess. 'Baby' is the reminder that this album shouldn’t be taken too seriously, because in the end, it's just another release from the odd minded and almost schizophrenic Ariel Pink.


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