Friday, August 24, 2012

REVIEW: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes

Listening to Mature Themes, the just-released LP from Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, is like being inside a fantastical pop-music amusement park.  It springs from the fertile, idiosyncratic musical musings of  Ariel Pink, who has a talent for combining his own take on underground LA with excellent pop music and a genuine sense of humor.  The sounds of Ariel Pink on this album are much more pop and mainstream than his bedroom compositions of the last decade.  But tempos and styles change frequently, and the subject matters require some attention if you want to keep up.  For example, there is a bouncy tune about "Pink Slime" -- yes, the almost-meat that the American food industry manages to get many customers to pay for.  "Schnitzel Boogie" may be the only song you hear this year that discusses sausages.  And we should mention that one track is likely to be your favorite song about a nymphomaniac lesbian.

But that is the way amusement parks are.  You jump from ride to ride, and circle back for your favorite ones.  You eat food you wouldn't normally eat. And at the end of the day you are tired, but willing to plan the next trip to the park.  I certainly intend it as a compliment when I tell you that Mature Themes reminds me of Frank Zappa.  Sure, it has more pop and less shred, and the perspective of its commentary seems more internal and less focused on society generally.  But it shares the sense of adventure, and the willingness to walk at the edge of musical convention.

This album is well worth your time.

Ariel ("Pink") Rosenberg, Tim Koh, Kenneth Gilmore and Joe Kennedy.  Mature Themes is released on 4AD.


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