August 14, 2012
Review: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – ‘Mature Themes’
The psychedelic LA freakster with a penchant for ’70s AM radio soft rock styles returns with Mature Themes, the second release under the Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti banner. Following the stellar 2010 set and 4AD debut Before Today (featuring incessantly catchy earworm ‘Round And Round’), the record further demonstrates Pink’s skilful way with lo-fi production techniques.
Like friend and recent collaborator R. Stevie Moore, Pink makes use of tape saturation and murky frequencies to add a gloss of otherworldliness to cuts like ‘Driftwood’ and the floating ‘Nostradamus & Me’, flaunting the muddiness to good effect without letting it dominate.
There are more moments of sonic clarity here than on previous Ariel Pink releases, however. ‘Only In My Dreams’ is jangly ’60s harmony pop — a furrow that’s also ploughed on the excellent title track — and ‘Live It Up’’s cascading synths are a delight.
‘Is This The Best Spot’ has a hint of Apostrophe-era Frank Zappa in its combination of complex melodic runs and wry humour, while ‘Schnitzel Boogie’ is a delight – a woozy blues shuffle with its needles deep in the red. It’s not all rosy for Pink, though, as elsewhere tracks like ‘Pink Slime’ and ‘Symphony Of The Nymph’ come up a little short in their psychedelic noodling.
Closer ‘Baby’ is a faithful cover of a cult Donny & Joe Emerson track that seems to be getting a lot of love this year (it also cropped up on Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland’s brilliant Black Is Beautiful). Pink’s version features fellow Californian DaM-FunK, and the pair take on the simple love song with all of the ghostly sheen of the original left intact.
Before Today was an album dotted with sublime moments in among the occasional moment of over-indulgence from Pink, and Mature Themes shares a similar hit-and-miss pattern. That said, there’s plenty here to please Haunted Graffiti fans, and the album’s highlights are strong enough to make this a more-than worthy follow-up.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON