Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Passing the Petal 2 You" (Scared Famous)
Ariel Pink’s slipped from the aesthete’s radar lately. There’s no buzz-word about him anymore, and the overarching impression one gets is that people tired of his budget Hall & Oates symphonies and looked elsewhere for their soft pop nostalgia fix. There’s also a distinct lack of quality control to Pink’s last few albums, as though he’s throwing back catalogue against the wall to see if it splatters nicely. It’s a charge Mike Powell led in a recent review of Scared Famous for The Wire, which lamented “the sobering feeling that [Ariel Pink’s] music might actually be really, really terrible.”
But while Scared Famous isn’t amongst his best, there’s still plenty of pleasure to be found here. When he’s playing the Cure fan (“Why Can’t I Be Me?”), or coming on like yacht rock reinterpreted by the Legion Of Rock Stars (at least half the record), it’s pretty ordinary, with the usual flatulent synths and cheek-chops drums bobbing in a sea of tape fuzz. (He could really stand to lose that Chipmunk backing vocal, too.)
“Passing the Petal 2 You,” though, is gorgeous, with a vocal melody that trails the guitar rather like Mayo Thompson’s “Oyster Thins,” and “Inmates of Heartache,” for several spiky guitars and woozy harmonies, feels like Soft Machine’s “Dedicated to You but You Weren’t Listening” after guzzling Codeine.
Pink may have dropped the ball a little, but it’s wise to check your pre-determined cynicism. The kid has it in him to surprise you yet – even if he’s still dredging five-year-old cassette archives to feed the steadily depleting “masses."