Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes

by Daryl Worthington Rating:8 Release Date:2012-08-20

The new Ariel Pink album, 'Mature Themes' has a song on it called Schnitzel Boogie. The song is built around a walking bass line and has that wonderful lo-fi distortion all over it that makes it sound like its being played from a car stereo, however good the sound system you're playing it through. The lyrics deliver a narrative of a man waking up, deciding he needs a schnitzel, and going to buy said schnitzel (including a conversation with the schnitzel vendor). There are then about two minutes of falsetto chorus of 'schnitzel' with energetic backing woops and adlibbing. This is a good primer for what to expect from the new album by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.

Pink has been writing and recording music since 1996, he first came to wider attention when Animal Collective reissued two of his home recorded albums on their Paw Tracks label. 2010 saw him sign to 4AD who released his first studio recorded material 'Before Today', and now, this latest album. Over this time, his sound has become more concise, with the deranged VHS samples and freakouts being toned down into tighter song structures. What has always been a defining feature of Ariel Pink music is texture and a sense of place. As with his previous releases Mature Themes is an album that could only have been recorded in Los Angeles. The songs take in a variety of West Coast influences, from psyche wig outs to the jangly guitars and dreamy pop of The Byrds. However this is not just a reworking of old styles. Pink has always had an indefinable quality to his music, even with this studio produced effort there is texture in the production values and arrangements of the songs that like all the best lo-fi musicians, is unique to him.

The albums title track is the most concise pop song on the album. Gently strummed acoustic guitar, with melodic electric guitar and synths make a sweet summery vibe. Pinks voice sounds like he could be in the Byrds or the Mamas and Papas. But lyrically, this could only be a song from him. It seems to be the sound of a man getting to his mid 30's and still trying to work out what it means to be an adult. "35 years of my life, spent computing it all".

Contrast this with the albums opening track 'Kinski Assassin'. Ariel Pink sings in a dead pan baritone. The song is built around a guitar and keyboard riff, with abrupt changes in tempo. Lyrically it seems like Pink is reeling words and sentences off the top of his head, the phrase he seems to regularly return to being "Who sunk my battleship, I sunk my battleship". However with repeated listens, you start to get the feeling there is some kind of narrative behind the lyrics - one just can't perceive what it is.

A common thread through the lyrics of Ariel Pink albums is a revelling in the diversity of people that inhabit his home town. 'Symphony of the Nymph', is a song about a nymphomaniac at a discotheque. The arrangement is built around processed drums and synths, with an epic feel to the instrumental passages that make it sound like it could be the soundtrack to a classic American film (enhanced by the sample of a horse in the middle).

More than 'Before Today', this album captures much of the eccentricity of Pink's earlier work, though maintaining the new found tightness. The album is a lot to take in, like a David Lynch film, lots of surreal madcap ideas are thrown at the listener, with little time to process them before the next one comes along. However, one feels that this manic approach, which can only be disguised so much by studio sheen, is the most truthful expression of Ariel Pink as an artist.

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