On ‘Pom Pom’ Ariel Pink has gone it alone and recorded a sprawling album which showcases his full twisted repertoire
riel Pink has returned with his third release on 4AD and as always it’s a dizzying blend of genres and effects. Having dropped the Haunted Graffiti, Pink has been left alone with his warped mind to create a sprawling double-album and the results are delightfully maddening.
Listening to Pom Pom is at first an exhausting experience. So many different styles of music collide within each song that by the time you’ve listened to the 17 tracks it is almost impossible to comprehend what you have heard. Surf pop, nursery rhymes, power ballads, television jingles, lo-fi and 80s FM radio rock are just a small taste of what awaits. As well as the sheer scale of the album the listener also has to contend with Pink’s propensity for sabotaging his own tracks through his fondness for strange voices and sound effects. A song as ridiculous as Dinosaur Carebears may be too much for many, but to reject the album without giving it a chance would be a mistake.
Pink has always had a gift for a hook and the album is abundant with moments of magic. Put Your Number In My Phone, Picture Me Gone and Dazed Inn Daydreams are as close to traditional song structures as you are likely to hear on an Ariel Pink album and show what a talented writer he can be. Picture Me Gone in particular is a brilliantly contemplative track – a father’s legacy stored on a hard-drive for his children to discover after he has gone. Elsewhere, Goth Bomb sees Ariel fronting The Stooges and Exile On Frog Street casts him as a sleazy prince.
There will be plenty of people who can’t look beyond the controversy of Pink’s statements in the media or kitsch novelty tracks such as Jell-o. Questions will always remain about how great he could be if he dropped the pastiche and made a serious record, but why should he when he can create an album as twisted and original as Pom Pom.
Verdict: A genre-hopping assault on the senses