August 25th, 2012 | Have You Heard the New... | 0 Comments
Ok, so Pitchfork gave this album an 8.5 and Best New Music. Both totally deserved. In the review they said that the album “clarifies that Before Today was not a sign of things to come but rather just a signpost along his unknowable path,” and this is also totally true. It reaffirms what most of us already knew – Before Today was, indeed, the cleaned up Ariel Pink-for-dummies album meant to introduce a wider audience to Pink’s often less-than-accesible music. That being said, it did make a fine album. But Mature Themes manages to retain a lot of its predecessor’s accessibility while at the same time being a lot more interesting and working more in the vein of his earlier, more erratic/eclectic albums.
When people talk about Ariel Pink, something along the lines of ‘re-imagining retro sounds’ comes up. This is less applicable to Mature Themes than some of his other work. No doubt the album does have its share of retro-mania. This time around though it’s not the smooth AM pop of the 70′s/80′s but the sounds of San Francisco circa 1968 that get the nod, with “Incense And Peppermints”-esque organ on “Kinski Assassin”, Byrds-y jangling guitars on “Only In My Dreams”, and We’re Only In It For The Money-esque breaks throughout. But Pink has warped classic sounds and styles so radically, and added so many others into his incongruous mix, that one can reasonably say he’s managed to transcend the retro tags here.
He’s also a lot funnier. The whole album runs with an absurdist streak, but the shtick works best on “Symphony Of The Nymph”, which manages to be a really awesome song musically and production-wise, and the lyrics are *actually* hilarious. “I don’t want to burn any bridges/But I can get enough of those bitches/I’m just a rock and roller from Beverley Hills/My name is Ariel, and I’m a nymph,” – Pink actually pulls these lyrics off. It’s easily my favourite song on the album, and not cuz it’s funny or a joke, but actually cuz it’s an awesome song and it’s title may or may not be a play on the Castlevania game Symphony Of The Night.
Admittedly the album is not consistently as great as its best songs and it ends with an identical cover of the boring-ass-but-fashionable-right-now Donnie & Joe Emerson song “Baby”, but it’s (almost) never less than good, and seriously, always interesting. Compositionally, Pink is also doing a lot of interesting things – I’m starting to understand a bit more why John Maus is practically gay for his songwriting (like he wants to bone it…songwriting is a dude, right?).
So yeah, good tunes here.