Ariel Pink - Pom Pom

"I genuinely worry for anyone who can sincerely enjoy this record" -My roommate, on Ariel Pink's latest endeavour

Oh boy, where to begin? Can a record be great and terrible, enjoyable and infuriating, really smart and incredibly stupid, all at the same time? If this was the goal of Ariel Pink's latest record Pom Pom, then good lord, has he ever succeeded.

Like many, my introduction to Ariel Pink was through the weirdo-masterpiece of a pop song, "Round and Round". His 2010 record, Before Today, became a sort of milestone, and this was well deserved as the myriad of artists who have been influenced by Pink (Panda Bear, every chillwave band ever) is quite astounding. The follow-up, Mature Themes, saw him delving back into the weirder kitschier sound he was well known for. Pom Pom continues that trend into the strange, but in a more bizarre Tim and Eric-like way.

Pink is quite the character in real life, with his frequent on-stage meltdowns (which I was fortunate enough to witness in Chicago four years ago), and his "commentary", often bordering on either flat out offensive or as a famous Montrealer suggested, misogynistic. With all the noise and mythos surrounding him, listening to Pom Pom can be a rather disorienting experience.

It starts off with a pleasant sunny silliness that's also undeniably catchy, which only a master songwriter could pull off. It's easy to overlook this fact since Pink shrouds his songs with ancient/gimmicky sounding production and sitcom soundtrack-like instrumentation (see: the 1980s). And then there are those lyrics, "Freckles! Freckles! Where'd you get those freckles!?", Jello Jello Jello!", and "Uhhh I like your areolas baby".... you get the point. Outside of that nuttiness is the occasional insight and social commentary. The album's two best tracks "Black Ballerina" and "Picture Me Gone" stand side by side, and give the album a feeling of depth and importance on an otherwise lyrically and musically aloof record.

Overall, this is a divisive record, and you will either love it or hate it. There are some real moments of beauty where Pink's ear for creating sound collages really comes through like the aforementioned highlights, and on ethereal songs like "Lipstick". These moments are almost enough to remind you that beneath his wacky persona and bizarre lyrics, Ariel Pink is still better at doing what he does than just about anyone else.

Best For: Do you find yourself magically transported to and trapped in a Tim and Eric sketch, or that Too Many Cooks video? Congratulations! You have found an alternate dimension to enjoy this record in a sincere, real-life context. Good luck finding that portal back to Earth!

Rating: 3.5/5


--Kenny Chatoor is former CJLO radio DJ and magazine contributor currently living in Ontario, "Yeah things are good, there is definitely nothing like CJLO in Toronto though, which is a bummer."