Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ariel Pink: Sickly Euphoric

Once in while a new album drops that perfectly captures the zeitgeist, coalesces disparate patterns into a harmonious form and gives thought to expression. That just happened - it's Before Today by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.

Ariel Pink (ne Rosenberg) has been around for a while, at least since 1996 before being "discovered" by Animal Collective in 2003. I just picked up his latest and it's like a helium high - light, airy and sickly euphoric. There are splashes of hot neon, a gooey gloss of disco and a slacker's love of the louche. The New York Times has made reference to Pink's "half-remembered melodies" and they're scattered throughout the album like glowing vapor trails pointing towards some larger community of song. I hear traces of Prince, Stevie Wonder and yacht rock faves like Quarterflash, Hall & Oates and Toto.

But it's not all breezy, feathery tones; there's something eating away beneath the sheen adding a bit of grit and a little disease to the celebrations. It's not quite decadence, but something more damaged, sort of like a mangy, neglected dog shivering in the a space suit. It's that tension that distinguishes the music, setting it apart from Daft Punk or M83 raves. As Pink sings in "Round And Round" - "we die and we live and we're born again." He dazzles by giving new life to old forms...