If you’ve been following ARIEL PINK for a goodly chunk of his career, you know about his leap from hermetic lo-fi weirdo recording cassettes in a cabin to full-blown rock-pop idol on 2010’s much acclaimed Before Today, recorded with his (now former) band Haunted Graffiti. Before Today, unusual for Pink, was kind of normal and sane sounding, replacing his normal beat-boxing with real drums and his spaced-out songwriting with bona fide pop compositions. It’s follow up, Mature Themes, got significantly weirder but was still pretty accessible, a direction in which his latest release, POM POM (released on 4AD), continues.
Like all of his albums, pom pom knocks off a bevy of styles from the history of classic rock and pop music: surf rock on “Nude Beach A-Go-Go,” disco on “One Summer Night,” it’s all here, and it’s warmed up with a sunny gloss of bubblegum melodies and psychedelic wonkiness. Even Black Sabbath gets a nod in the guitarwork on “Goth Bomb.” Other tracks, like “Jell-O,” veer more towards nonsensical, synth-driven frolics. The lyrics are especially off-the-wall, if not sometimes unsettling (see track 12: “Sexual Athletics”), even compared to normal Ariel Pink standards.
Pom pom is Pink’s third release on 4AD, available as an LP, CD, and download. At 17 tracks and over an hour long, there’s a lot here to listen to. He’s also going on tour this January and February, including a stop in Boston at Paradise Rock Club on Feb. 21st. You never know what will happen when Pink plays.