Ariel Pink doesn't exist as a human being. Ariel Pink is smoke and mirrors, a reflection of everything that is great and terrible about pop music. Catty behavior? Check. Callous comments? Check. Contrived aesthetic? Check. Catchy hooks? Check. Other phrases that begin with the letter "c"? Stay tuned, sportsfans. It's part of the polarization. You might argue that he is one hundred percent artist or one hundred percent con artist and there is a lot of evidence for each side. His idea of consistency is non-existent, insofar as his persona goes.
It's dishonest on one level and absolutely genuine on another: there's no mistaking an Ariel Pink song, and a lot of that has to do with how true-to-life-but-not-to-mind his music is. And yet, there's no telling what his honest-to-god opinion on some bourgeois topic is. To me, it's a totally alluring pastiche of pop culture and top 40 music. Bono's raising money for a good cause? Sure. Is his heart in it? Maybe. But who can tell what the intention is. Same thing applies to almost every artist publically donating to some ill-researched cause. It's a question of do ends justify means. How much should intent or being genuine matter if ultimately it's a positive effect on people. Like when Ford advertises on energy efficient cars. Ford doesn't care about the environment. Ford wants to hit a new demographic!
Ariel Pink is the terribly-dressed condensation of these realities and it's both wonderful and terrible. And maybe it's ironic consolation, but it's just a fucking sad reminder that you can't always trust your mother.
His new album Pom Pom capitalizes on his drug-addled synthpop auteur personality, albeit at a longer and larger capacity. Pom Pom is a 2 x LP of seventeen songs clocking in at a winding sixty-seven minutes. It's also perhaps his most accessible album, whatever that means, as it focuses its scope on catch-and-release tension between verses and choruses.
The lyrics of the album are still a whole lot of nonsense that link together like dream meanings. Puns and connotations link phrases rather than construe a fully-formed narrative or idea, kind of like William S. Burroughs met Luis Buñuel and decided to make songs.
Some songs such as "four shadows" lean towards a more prog-oriented song structure and instrumentation. And yeah, there are a lot more instruments that appear on this record just in general: it's to the brim in complicated layering. Immediately following, though, is "Lipstick," more of a lo-fi Cyndi Lauper styled song.This bounce between the weird progressive symphonic song and the measured pop song is what makes the album special. Maybe Ariel discerns between the two, but not enough to put them on different records.
It amazes me that Pink is as big as he is, and a lot of that is what I like to think of as the Pitchfork effect, but I'm glad he is because it gives some semblance of hope to the next generation's weirdo poppers. And it makes me happy to think that the weird is getting even a little bit of the credit that it deserves. So even if Ariel Pink's outrageous, hypocritical presence can be annoying, I think there's a lot of merit in his songwriting alone, this album notwithstanding.