by / May 18th, 2009 /

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Upstairs At Whelan’s

This really shouldn’t work. The music of Ariel Pink is designed for back bedrooms the stuff of creepily familiar dark fantasy, the disconnected voice of putrefied innocence amongst a decaying Castle Greyskull and a fungus filled Rainbow Brite pencil case. He should have his fingers firmly stuck on the play/record button somewhere not wrapped around a microphone in a packed sweaty venue but on this rainy eve in Dublin we have entered a parallel universe where Pink is the prince of paranoid pop. He howls, he croons, he sighs and slides tangling himself in the microphone lead, his hands raking through his thick mop of hair in a frantic fashion and this is just on the opening number ‘ Flashback’. It’s the perfect introduction to the hyperactive kaleidoscopic acid-soaked wonder of an Ariel Pink live show.

Maybe it’s the addition of a cohesive backing band featuring erstwhile members of The Lily’s and Cibo Mato that manages to add weight to his fuzzy, discordant, surrealist visions. They offer structure and urgency but do so without transforming the songs into something more formal so tunes like ‘For Kate I Wait’ and ‘I Can’t Hear My Eyes’ retain their skewed soft-rock fragility and their endearing ramshackle quality remains intact.

This new wholeness distances Pink’s performances from his early ill-received Dadaesque lo-fi art prank live shows into a realm where the true infectious nature of his tracks are fully exposed.

Melodic gems like ‘Amongst Dreams’ and the spectacular ‘Hard Core Pops Are Fun’ have a new fuzzed up frenzied edge and are dispensed with in such furious speed that it leaves the crowd baffled but dazzled. It’s as if he may spontaneously combust if he doesn’t spit out track after track of his prolific back catalogue, as he perilously jitters about the preposterously small space no one could accuse him of being apathetic.

Ariel Pink is a true pop curator, a great inventive archivist of lost eighties cartoon theme tunes and the best foreign radio songs you never heard on journey’s you’ve never taken. This eerie de ja vu is created by encompassing a fascinating mish-mash of seventies M.O.R, plastic punk and deranged psychedelic folk to produce a soundtrack so dreamlike and otherworldly it makes David Lynch look positively traditional. Finishing with the brilliantly insane thrash ‘hit’ ‘ Are You Gonna Look After My Boys?’ we’re then plummeted back into the real world, ejected from the rabbit-hole whilst the Ariel Pink road-show moves on to spin another city on its head.


Photos by Cormac Figgis.