Despite rave reviews, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti seemed destined to operate on the fringes of popularity. That deliberately lo-fi production and demented vocals would be the main reason for the outsider status but the wayward nature of the records only started to be consistently satisfying for 2006’s ‘House Arrest’. Now signed to 4AD, Ariel Pink finds home on a label with the track record of being unafraid to showcase individual talents.
Much like Baby Bird – arguably a British rival – Ariel Marcus Rosenberg (to give him his full name) had a tendency to sing in a crazed falsetto; it’s featured again here but more sparingly. In addition, listening to some of the songs clearly shows he has big (and clever) pop ideas even if he favours the kind of production which sounds like your expensive hi-fi has been replaced by a battered old radio.
Pink and the gang hit their best form towards the middle of the record beginning with eerie 80’s synth pop number ‘Fright Night’ and this prepares us for the cunning way in which white soul pastiche ‘Round And Round’ builds up into a technicolour chorus; surely his most ambitious moment yet. Meanwhile, ‘Beverly Kills’ revives kitschy 1970’s disco and ‘Little Wing’ salvages a fine song from glam rock.
As much as it’s easy to admire the originality of Ariel Pink’s music, the quality of the songs still tends to be quite erratic. Yet above all, Ariel Pink gives modern psychedelia a good name.