There’s a moment about a minute into ‘Round and Round’ where you genuinely believe there’s no way that this song can get any better. The sassy keyboard parp, the perfect pitch of a lost Bee-Gee’s B-side replete with tonsil-tingling falsetto and the breathy ‘I’m Not in Love’ ‘aahhhs’ billowing through the looping bassline, it’s pretty perfect and then with a flourish something truly stomach flipping happens. Ariel Pink answers a ringing telephone with a curious “Hello?” then Bam! he hits you with the knock-down chorus you weren’t expecting. It erupts, lifting the song from seventies dive bar groove Ito pure, celestial white-hot pop.
The secret is finally out, Ariel Pink has arrived and it’s glorious.
Ariel Pink has always been an awkward genius. Managing to create tinny fun-filled gems by using old radio-friendly forgotten MOR tunes mixed with his beat-up keyboards and ethereal vocals. The recordings posses a dream-like quality twisting the familiar until it becomes strange and new but still managing to retain an odd subconscious sense of recognition. It may have been ramshackle and bizarre but the melodies and choruses blazed through, from the truly insane ‘Are You Gonna Look After My Boys’ to ‘Every Night I Die At Miyagis’ his heart was tuned to pop.
Before Today is Ariel’s first foray out of the metaphorical musical basement, using all his archivist knowledge to create an album that’s so open, accessible and colourful it should be available in vending machines on every street corner. It’s not an album that belongs in some Pitchfork indie-ghetto snark-ville it should be there shining on the racks alongside Lady Gaga and N-Dubz. He should be making uncomfortable appearances on goony hangover telly with annoying presenters. It should be mandatory listening for every earnest male that dares pick up an acoustic guitar, to know there is another way…there is redemption through Prince, Madonna, Chic and Janet Jackson.
This collection is a pick n mix of Mr. Pink, some old, some new but all polished up to look their finest. Songs such as ‘Beverly Kills’ a giddy, zippy thrill full of woozy keyboards, manic U-Roy style cackling and stop-start chanting it’s like the soundtrack to the greatest Atari game never made. On the flip-side there’s the downbeat soft-rock swoon of “Can’t Hear My Eyes” which recalls the breezy white shirt and palm trees days of Hall and Oates with lyrics to match:”I wanna girl as beautiful as a sunset on the strip” Ariel trills as the chimes tinkle gently and the bar man hands him another Pina Colada. In a more right-headed less Snow Patrol engulfed universe this would be a drive-time radio smash hit.
This is pop so visceral it smacks you in the face repeatedly like a giant melodic foam mallet made of tunes until you finally relent and then when he triumphantly calls “We’ll dazzle them all-hold on I’m coming” on the awe-inspiring ‘Round and Round’ you know that it’s the truth.