15 July 2010

Radio Ponsonby Record Review: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Before Today


I never thought I’d be reviewing something positively whilst comparing it to Hall & Oates, Steely Dan & the Beach Boys.

Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with any of those well-respected & frankly mega-huge acts, you understand, but… well, none would exactly make it to my ‘All Time Favourites’ list.

However, the wee L.A. native Ariel Pink & his merry men, Haunted Graffiti, may well have edged into that list of favourites – by melding messy guitars, layered synths & keening vocal melodies with half-remembered hooks from those aforementioned ‘80s uber-stars – with their new album, Before Today.

The 2004 re-release of Ariel Pink’s Doldrums album (the first album from a non-Animal Collective member on that band’s own Paw Tracks label) brought his distinctly lo-fi styled, bedroom-produced, noise-pop sound to greater public attention.

Before Today is also a re-release of sorts, in a way, with a handful of these songs available previously in differing versions. It's their first album for the famed 4AD label (home to The National, TV On The Radio, Pixies) & no expense has been spared with the recording, with these full-bodied studio version more fully-realised, better produced & ultimately far more engaging than any previously available.

Yes, it is smooth & sometimes even a little cheesy in places, but it’s also pretty rugged in others, as if Phil Spector produced half of the album & Iggy Pop or Syd Barrett the other half. Having said that, after ten plus years & more than a dozen albums, Ariel Pink seems to have reigned in his noisiest elements & successfully harnessed his most melodic, resulting in what is easily his most accessible work.

In A Nutshell: jam-packed with outsider A.M. gold nuggets

Nyntee's Rating: EIGHT yachts out of TEN

Check out the Radio Ponsonby Record Review with Nyntee on Murry Sweetpant's Breakfast Show on Radio Ponsonby, every Wednesday around 8.25am. Tune in! 107.7FM

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