The first time I encountered Ariel Pink was a few years after watching an unofficial video for Girls’ Lust for Life which witnessed a freshly awoken and dressing gown-sporting Christopher Owens holding up a series of handwritten notes for the viewer, and one particular note read “listen to Ariel Pink“. I was intrigued and a Google search consequently came. Thanks to the wonders of the internet I read his Animal Collective-indebted back story and downloaded his entire discography.
It’s weird to think that Pom Pom is Pink‘s, now at the tender age of 36, first album credited solely to himself. It was announced that Pom Pom would last 69 minutes and consist of 17 songs and a taster single Put Your Number in My Phone was released to the world. I instantly fell in love with the song and came to the decision that it was Pink‘s best work to date. It was romantic, catchy, and, most importantly, sleazy as hell. God, I need a sit down.
My expectations were raised tenfold and it’s fair to say the end result doesn’t almost nearly reach the dizzy heights of Put Your Number in My Phone and the expectations that came as a result. This is an album that comes with a tracklist consisting of songs named Nude Beach A Go-Go, Sexual Athletics, and Exile On Frog Street amongst others. One would imagine it was a stone’s throw away from a restraining order and/or a mental breakdown.
Album opener Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade, along with a scattering of the album’s other tracks like Jell-O, sound so cherubic yet creepy at the same time – it achieves a feeling of uneasiness and confusion not dissimilar the use of Singing in the Rain evokes when used in A Clockwork Orange. The album as a whole has a hyper-idiosyncratic vibe, directly in parallel with that of Pink‘s personality, to it and it wouldn’t sound out of place soundtracking the next Wes Anderson film.
But, that doesn’t mean that this album is just the behaviour of an oddball, it also has an air of melancholy to it that occasionally pulls through – Picture Me Gone is probably the album’s second best song to Put Your Number… with the general tone being slow and painful like the fag end of a cherished relationship and even the aforementioned sexual predatory-sounding Sexual Athletics momentarily takes a break from trying to file a place on the sexual offender’s register and plucks the heartstrings with the warming and sympathetic “all I wanted was a girlfriend, all my life”.
This album is by no means a classic. It has the power to make a part of me laugh, a part of me cry, and leaves a part of me feeling violated and wanting to run away and sleep in a park for a week drinking cheap cider. I don’t know if it’s the overly cartoonish whimsical nature of the album or the fact that it is so skeezy that it makes me want to stop listening and take a bath that implants a soar taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s time for Pink to hang up the pom poms and get a chat show or something.
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