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Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes

I’m not sure I knew what I was getting myself in to when I stepped in to Ariel Pink’s world two years ago, by picking up his critically acclaimed Before Today.  On one hand I was able to pick out themes reminiscent of the days when The Velvet Underground were building the foundation for all independent music to come, fascinated by its originality.  On the other hand it was one of the most bizarre albums I had ever heard, and I wasn’t sure if that equaled great music.

Pink’s musical world is for the most part created entirely by him.  The majority of his drum sounds actually come from him using his mouth and other bodily noises to mimic actual drums.  He records pretty much everything on his own giving his work a very lo-fi sound, which adds to the mystery and surreal/psychedelic quality of his work.  It also makes it sound closer to the work of Wesley Willis at times.

Mature Themes is not as focused as Before Today, and is some what immature at times.  That’s evident in songs like Schnitzel Boogie, Pink Slime, and Is This the Best Spot.  Three songs that sound like they were created by a third-grader on recess.  But then there are songs like Only in My Dreams, Early Birds of Babylon and the title track Mature Themes, which show so much texture and depth it’s hard to believe they exist on the same album.  Then there’s the closer Baby, which is on par with some of the most soulful of Marvin Gaye gems, and is easily one of the best songs I’ve heard all year.  If anything the album is worth a listen for it alone.

The album as a whole sounds like it comes from a completely different time and perhaps planet, keeping Mature Themes interesting enough from start to finish.  It exists in Ariel Pink’s bizarre dreamworld, and he’s able to ring that out for the most part.  His work has always been a little disjointed, but that’s the uniqueness of it all.

I can appreciate what Ariel Pink is doing from a musicians standpoint.  He’s creating something that is entirely unique with little production quality.  It’s something pretty much anyone can do on a limited budget, as long as they can find that voice inside them.  That’s not always a good thing though.  No one is really there to tell you when something sucks, or is a little bit too far out there.  Mature Themes showcases both sides of that coin.  It’s not for everyone, but I promise you no one else is doing what Ariel Pink is doing, and in my mind that’s worth a listen.

Grade: B-