Review: Ariel Pink/ Pom Pom

“I’m an idiot, I’m a fool, and I know I’m full of shit—I’ll be the first to say it”- This, from indie rock’s most controversial figure. Known for eyebrow-raising statements and occasional non sequiturs, this seeming admission comes as no surprise for seasoned fans of the Beverly Hills native, but would likely please those not fond of him.

Leading up to Pink’s most recent album release “Pom Pom”, he landed himself in hot water for criticizing Grimes and Madonna. It generated arguments on twitter, a response from Grimes herself, and gave Ariel quite a bit of free press. For those who know little about him, it’s fair to say he probably knows what he’s doing, regardless of the picture it might paint of him “Every little bit of attention I get, I get because I fucking seek it out. I have to make money for my living, and I don’t think that if I didn’t make money, I’d be doing it right now.”

Amidst these recent events, Pink brings his third album with label 4AD, though his discography technically dates back to the mid 90’s and includes 13 albums with various labels. His sound is kaleidoscopic, lo-fi and retro. He brings every bit of this on Pom Pom, but with that, it’s also his most accessible, pop, personal album yet.

By the standards of experimentation within Ariel’s music, Pom Pom contains probably the most straightforward pop tracks, with “Put Your Number In My Phone” and “Lipstick” being the most easy to digest. “White Freckles” has become a fan favorite; once you catch on to the fast paced chorus you’ll want to sing it over and over.”Black Ballerina” has a catchy, funky beat and tells the story of a grandfather taking his grandson to the “number one strip club in LA” before getting kicked out. “Jello” sounds like a lost eighties demo jingle for jello turned upside down, going from the actual subject of jello to reincarnation and white bread killing people.

“Sexual Athletics” is a pleasant surprise, starting out as a predictable 70’s sexy psychedelic track with Pink boasting about being the “Sex King” and halfway through turns into a dreamy, sweet sound, where he reveals to us that all he’s ever wanted is a girlfriend. It would seem Pink is making his music more personal, with many of the lyrics centering on looking for love, from “waiting on his princess charming” in “Exile on Frog Street” to “waiting for his Alice in Wonderland” in “Sexual Athletics”, to basically turning “Put Your Number In My Phone” into a personal dating ad. The track that perhaps shows Pink at his most reflective is “Picture Me Gone”, a poignant song explained by Ariel himself as being “from the point of view of a dad in the very near future” where there will no longer be any physical photo albums or momentos for future generations to learn about their family’s past, and instead will have to access their parent’s iClouds.

Whatever your feelings on Pink may be, and regardless of any possible future controversy he may be involved in, at the very best Pom Pom makes for a fun listening experience. We may never know the real Ariel, but his unpredictability is what makes him interesting to keep up with, and he knows how to write a genuinely good pop song.

Review: Ariel Pink/ Pom Pom

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