Monday, October 1, 2012

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Mature Themes, Aug. 21 2012

Critics can't agree on the mishmosh that is Ariel Pink. Mature Themes has been labeled both Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's most-likely-to-weed-out-the-die-hard-fans, as well as their greatest cross over album. So which is it? When Pitchfork described the album as grittier then the previous, I'm not sure what they were taking about. To me, this album seriously lacks the grit that I originally loved about Ariel Pink. NPR's First Listen review seems to have the opposite, more accurate take - that this is the album that win over the masses. But I think it's actually neither. I don't think this album will appeal to die hards, nor your average Joe.

When my favorite indie artists achieve mainstream status, it's usually because they lose their creative edge in favor of something more generically appealing. Mature Themes is supposed to be a great work, if you get into the musical intricacies of it. But to me the album is only mature in the sense of old and boring.

Few songs stand out; It seems like a rehash of old themes. Without the edge of the previous albums, Ariel Pink is not mesmerizing me, as his music never really spoke to me on a deeper level- I just liked him for his signature 80's warbly mixed tape sound. Speaking of vintage, there is one song, which when I listening to it on shuffle with other artists, I thought it was an old Doo Wop song. "Baby" is a beautiful song, perfect for a dreamy mix for the one you love.

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh about this album. It's good in many ways, but with only one song that struck me, it's hard for me to be excited. The rest of the album sounds like the band America writing dreamy pop folk tunes for commercials about wiener schnitzels.

In the end, Mature Themes is my least favorite Ariel Pink album. I can see how music nerds could appreciate the music technically speaking, but maybe they are the only die-hards anyway.

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