Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today

19 Sep

Before Today by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti (2010)

I was introduced to Ariel Pink’s Worn Copy and The Doldrums in college by my glorious roommate, Robakabob.  Before Today isn’t a complete departure from the Ariel Pink that I knew and loved [parts of], but it is certainly a more focused and market-saavy approach.  It is technically Pink’s 10th album.  His albums prior to Before Today were often sprawling, lacked consistency and were even unlistenable at times—not unlike his mentor and tourmate/collaborator R. Stevie Moore (I often refer to Pink as Moore, Hall & Oates).  Until this album, there was always a slight unbalance between lo-fi genius and drugged-out studio masturbation.  In Before Today, Ariel Pink will get out there, but always reel his listener back in before he’s lost them.

“Bright Lit Blue Skies,” a Rockin’ Ramrods cover, puts a colorful and contemporary spin on the mid-60’s AM pop.  “Fright Night” sounds like just that: a one-off tune on a campy 80’s horror soundtrack (and I do love that movie!).  The single, “Round and Round,” is impeccable and quite possibly Pink’s best song to date.  In the chorus, he boasts that “he’ll dazzle them all,” and does.  The revamp of “Beverly Kills” which first appeared on his “Scared Famous” is infinitely more listenable.  In “Reminiscences,” one can almost smell the stale carpeting of a hotel elevator.  “Menopause Man” harkens back to Pink’s earlier gender-bending hilarity (“For Kate I Wait” music video) .  “Revolution’s a Lie” is like Pink Wire.

“Before Today” is a pop rebirth for Ariel Pink and could provide a springboard into the indie pop limelight; I’ve heard “Round and Round” played in local bars.  This is an album that he can tour with (not that he hadn’t been before, but…).  Another album of this ilk and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti could have themselves a handful of radio singles and a stranglehold on the quirky, low-budget music video—not to mention Pink landing himself as the glowing flagman of the burgeoning chillwave movement.

Ariel Pink shouldn’t be ashamed of his records before “Before Today,” but I have to say that I’m more excited about what’s to come after yesterday.  (I thought this was way more clever when I was wasted)

Rating: ****

“Round and Round” with clips from the 80’s Travolta movie Perfect

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