Aug 5, 2012

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Mature Themes (2012)


I haven't read any proper reviews of this, but just listening to it makes me think that critics will undoubtedly declare it a failure. This is because 2010's Before Today successfully blended old pop melodies with a timeless druggy atmosphere, and the songs that came out of this mix were chaotic and strange enough to go in any direction, and were also boldly listenable. Mature Themes will be seen as a step back from this success because it is avant-garde. Brown, in fact. Brown in the Ween sense: so dumb, shit, and weird, that it's actually pretty good. Comparing it to early Ween should save its dumb lo-fi ass, but I also refuse to accept that its a step back as critics will argue, or a return to form as fans of Pink's earlier works have been saying since Mature Themes leaked. Rather, it is another step forward in Pink's project of musical archaeology. The Doldrums was the 60s- or, your Scott Walker and David Bowie records warped by the sun as you recline in the sun stoned and half asleep. Before Today was the whole history of pop- deconstructed with components exaggerated to expose or revel in sleaze and the absurd- or encyclopaedic indie pop, indie pop revitalized by the music preceding it. Girls used the pop encyclopaedia because the sentimentality of their lyrics could only be communicated through styles from more sentimental times in music. Bon Iver's Justin Vernon used it because his ridiculous levels of 'profound' self-analysis were an echo of indulgent 80s sophistipop. Mature Themes steps away from more comfortable pop and finds Pink and his band excavating Sparks and Frank Zappa. Not subversive pop on its own, Sparks already did the work for them with the anglophilic Halfnelson: as catchy as the Kinks, as fucked up as Syd Barrett, and wonderfully self-aware/camp. Mature Themes stops there, but with Zappa's oddball sense of humour and avant-gardisms, and native lo-fi language retained. Lyrics fluctuate between Barrett's inoffensive drug fucked stream of consciousness and Zappa's dumbass jokes: Kinski Assassin has a game of battleship, refrains with I guess I'll always have Paris, and lyrics about "blowjobs of death," "shemale meth heads," and jerking off. And that's pretty much Mature Themes. It's not indie pop or pop history made absurd, because Sparks and Zappa already went there. It's Pink's Haunted Graffiti doing their job as pop archaeologists and finding relics which can make that fun after the alleged frustration of recording semi-conventional songs two years ago. It's brown: fun, weird, terrible, shit, annoying, lo-fi, difficult, and good.

tl;dr

Post-modernist subversive poppers find decades old post-modernist subversive pop and lo-fi it, or Ween it. Trying to be shit doesn't save them from being so, but it's good shit (Ween again)

B+

pre-order
Here's a link 'cause reviews are useless without them. Supposedly a 320 rip but the links 4AD gave out for reviews were 192 so fuck knows what's going on there... maybe wait for a legit one

2 comments:

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  2. You said Zappa, that's it i have to listen to him now. Thanks.

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