Before today there was a past of looping tapes, back bedroom antics, tape recorders and reels set on pause and hours and hours of sounds unheard, small symphonies for no-one. Before today there was an Ariel Pink whose schizophrenic jingles captured the unsettling haze between waking and sleeping, the feeling of being trapped in a room with a fuzzy T.V. tuned to adverts for Mattel products made by serial killers, cheery promotions for decaying food and invitations to peep through the keyhole of America the strange.
Then out of all this plastic pulp and weird mulch Ariel Pink managed to form an album cohesive enough for many to nod in time to. Before Today with its fizzy-pop brew of off-kilter nuggets had most of the music press scrambling to declare Ariel a genius or at least this year’s breakthrough from the underground who, just like his acid soaked cracked-pot buddies Animal Collective, realised that acceptance was to be found when the verse-chorus-verse regime was more strictly adhered to.
Although this adulation for his ability to effortlessly tumble out a pick n’ mix of seemingly avant-garde tunes but with giant choruses or addictive hooks seemed to rankle our Mr. Pink. Soon afterwards he became the Robert Pattinson of generation Pitchfork, slouching, despondent, and monosyllabic with back- to-the-audience contempt fuelled by being flavour of the month. With his taciturn, indie response to a modicum of success, Mature Themes could be considered as Ariel Pink’s escape hatch to oblivion but it’s not as bleak as all that. It is rather business as usual something that slots perfectly into his strange, compelling oeuvre as curator of the forgotten sounds on unloved radio stations in Nowheresville.
As with previous albums, for ‘Flyin’ Circles’ there’s a ‘Netherlands’, for every ‘Round and Round’ there was a ‘Butt House Blondies’ on every Ariel Pink album there’s a few bitter pills to rattle round before the sugar is doled out, Mature Themes is no exception. There is tedium abound with the deranged twin horrors of ‘Schnitzel Boogie’ and ‘Symphony Of The Nymph’ that although feature his twisted humour also just sound like something Frank Zappa sneezed up and forgot about.
Without them Mature Themes would be Pink’s usual hopscotch through the past scooping up the shiniest of gold on the way. Let your heart soar to the carefree jangle of ‘Only In Dreams’ the saccharine sister to the Nightcrawler’s ‘Little Black Egg’ or have a lost weekend in the 80s keyboard dream of ‘Live it Up’ a gentle breeze over a sticky Hollywood Boulevard and then there’s his disarming knack of creating the strange out of something that seems so familiar on the déjà vu deformed disco of ‘Pink Slime’ or the woozy 70s lounge of ‘Farwell American Primitive’. He also treats us to the obligatory obscure cover with Donnie and Joe Emerson’s sultry ‘Baby’ getting the unique Pink light shone upon it.
Yes, it still feels like he’s zipping up and down the dial never settling on one unique style which could be perturbing for the casual listener but for those who’ve persevered on this bizarre journey so far Mature Themes is just a new twist on the road where the weird turn pro.