Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Lincoln Hall; Tue 20
Long, greasy threads of hair hang over the diamond-shaped face of Ariel “Pink” Rosenberg. Perpetually hunched, the L.A. deadbeat is an unlikely candidate for next big thing, as he’s been tagged. For more than a decade, the 32-year-old has spewed cheap cassette-recorded solo albums of demented art rock, drawing equally on mopey new wave, scuzzy punk and the Hollies. In addition to singing in cartoon voices under a veil of tape hiss about drugs and sex, the lo-fi torchbearer pencils grotesque sketches.
All around, Ariel Pink seems incapable of dealing with the world, let alone the spotlight. And yet the oddball is signed to 4AD, the venerable label that vaulted the Pixies and the National. For his debut on the label, Before Today, Pink used a studio, backing band and producer for the first time. However, the resulting soup of lounge Muzak, ironically cheesy keyboards, wobbly-legged yacht rock, nitrous fumes, affected vocals and soft-porn soundtracks isn’t exactly ready for iPhone commercials.
Melodically, Pink stumbles around in the fog, singing pleasant, stream-of-conscious melodies that deliquesce in the queasy soft-rock mucus. “Can’t Hear My Eyes” and “Menopause Man” could nearly pass as ’80s AM-radio curiosities. If not for the lines about exploding eyeballs and castration.
The production fuzz and puke aesthetics are just armor. Nothing about Before Today seems honest, though it’s fascinating in a carnival-attraction way. The guy might be truly damaged. Or this could be shtick. As with everything about Ariel Pink, the truth is unclear.