I can’t even really remember how I stumbled upon Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, probably thanks to Pitchfork, but in any case, it is putting in a heavy shift on me ol’ iPod. My friend and great music connoisseur, Lightspeed Future Lullaby, described Ariel Pink’s earlier material as being a collage of sounds and influences that don’t really fit together. I think the collage analogy is brilliant and still applies to the new album, Before Today, but in a good way.
The album manages to encompass a myriad of melodies reminiscent of The Cure (‘Fright Night (Nevermore)’), Talking Heads (‘Menopause Man’) and Weezer (‘Butt-House Blondies’), incorporating all of these unique and different sounds without them appearing out of place alongside each other. What really binds this album and makes it work, though, is its underlying darkness. The sounds and distorted voices, creeping and crawling through this album accentuate a kind of haunted ambience: it proposes a sombre mood without being too grave.
Not only does this collage technique work to great effect in creating a deep layered and varied sound, it also, more importantly, succeeds as a whole, as an album opposed to a collection of songs. Although it feels like a bit of a throwback to the 80’s, the music reverberates beyond the limits of one decade. As a whole the album is accessible, refreshing and even danceable.