For a long time Ariel Pink really irritated me, there was something about his grand retro pop gestures and lofi sound that made me aggressive yet I couldn’t look away. On his Haunted Graffiti 5 House Arrest, back when he was still recording on 4-track, and still on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks I felt “He has been seduced by the notion of the cool balladeer, by the strut, by the sensitive crooner with big hair and a fragile heart.” And now some 11 years later playing with a full band, he’s in pretty much the same place. I’ve not heard anything from Ariel Pink since 2010, when a workmate would put the album Before Today on at 2.30pm every day without fail and play it on repeat until the end of the day for possibly 8 months or so. At the time it didn’t get tired, and it was impossible not to be seduced by the quirky offbeat pop hooks, and the greatly improved production value. But every day must have taken a toll, as three albums have since passed, including 2014’s Pom Pom that was apparently quite successful, and which is also apparently why Pink now pops up in tabloid music news saying outlandish things.
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson is named after a 60’s Californian musician who never really fulfilled on his early promise, descending into alcoholism and obscurity. Yet Pink finds resonance here, which is possibly not a surprise given his affinity for mythical sunkissed balladry.
By this point you pretty much know what you’re going to get from Ariel Pink, a kind of earnest quirkiness, where everything feels reminiscent, but off kilter. That’s his sound, and he hasn’t deviated in 15 years. So on this album you get jangly saccharine psychedlia, robotic organ white man funk, anthemic folk and everything in between. Stylistically he’s restless. He never sits still, yet nothing on Dedicated to Bobby Jameson could have come from anyone else. It’s catchy as hell, filled with pop hooks, yet then these unexpected slices of weirdness. I’m hearing everything from Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers to the Doors, sad chipmunks to the Beach Boys all filtered through his unique slightly demented persona.