Critical Voices: Ariel Pink, Pom Pom

November 19, 2014

When he’s not embroiled in social media beef with fellow artists—“mermaid,” “delusional misogyny,” and “stupid and retarded” were among the jabs traded on Twitter—Ariel Pink produces an eclectic assortment of lo-fi, psychedelic rock music complete with his characteristic eyebrow-perking lyrics.

Pink’s latest release, Pom Pom, marks his first work without his supporting band, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Throughout the album’s development, he seems to rehash a lot of ideas present in previous albums. The opener “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade,” with its fuzzy vocals and upper-register synth progression, is standard fare for Pink. However, songs like “Four Shadows” showcase Pink’s artistic growth and movement away from his predictable psych rock elements to create an inspired album that meshes the old with the new.

At times the album seems much more muted than the Pink of his eponymous Haunted Graffiti. In the song “Lipstick,” Pink shows that he can tone down his signature elements to create a song that sounds borderline new wave with its synth solos and contemplative lyrics.

Though confusing at times, the mixing and matching of genres leads to one of the best songs not only of Pom Pom, but also of Pink’s career. “Put Your Number in My Phone” tells the story of a man wanting to get to know a woman. It perfectly embraces Pink’s typical psychedelic and lo-fi sound in the bridge, but allows sentimentality worthy of The Smiths and equally aplomb guitar work to carry the chorus. The rich reverb reinforces what could have been a simple acoustic song and transforms it into a deeply visceral experience.

“Mannequins are so afraid, don’t be afraid to show your stripes,” muses Pink on “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade.” Taking his own advice, Pink shows his stripes on Pom Pom making it one of his best releases to date, in a large part due to the experimentation that he undertakes on this latest LP.

Voice’s Choices: “Put Your Number In My Phone” “Lipstick”


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