Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
I approached this album with a fair degree of hesitation, mostly because of all of the attendant hype that surrounded Ariel’s decision to drag his toy orchestra and ragtag band of minstrels into a proper studio, leaving the ol’ tape deck/boombox to molder in a corner, unloved. Nightmare visions of Pink engaging his inner Yes and a lingering sense of disappointment over Wavves’ similar “proper studio” gambit, made it all forebodings all the time until I finally just listened to the goddamn thing. And all I can say is, you’d have to have little fucking Phil Spector ears because I can’t detect much of a difference in fidelity between Before Today and The Doldrums. And that’s a GOOD thing.
Like Sebadoh or Daniel Johnston, an Ariel Pink album is still a grab-bag of weirdo goodness, but whereas the contents of the Sebadoh bag were “ARGH! SELF FLAGELLATION! OUTER LIMITS!!,” Ariel Pink’s albums are more of an experience of music through shared memory, an attempt to (re)create your own popular culture where you are your own superstar. Listening to Pink’s new album is like traveling through the radio dial circa 1984-7, new romantic pop, college radio, AOR and all, funneled through Pink’s singular aesthetic imagination and given his own voice. The best two tracks on the album are the warm, organic synth fuzz of “Fright Night” and “Round and Round,” icy as early Normal demos, but smoky and dark enough to be the perfect soundtrack to a roller-rink date.