By Matthew Gundrum —

Ariel Pink- “Pom Pom”

Once every so often there is a musical project released where a plethora of genre tags are needed to justify the way it sounds. Ariel Pink’s newest record “Pom Pom” is the perfect representation of such a phenomenon. Experimental rock, progressive pop and new-wave are all apt descriptors of the sound he’s achieved here. And what has resulted from this adjectival smorgasborg? Something that is both fun and incredibly satisfying.

Ariel Pink is the pseudonym for Los Angeles-based recording artist Ariel Marcus Rosenberg. This is his second album made under the Ariel Pink name, whereas other projects affiliated with Rosenberg have been credited to his band Ariel Pink’s “Haunted Graffiti.”

“Pom Pom,” similar to Ariel Pink’s past projects, retains a certain quality of lo-fi sound production. But the similarities begin and end there. At seventeen tracks–clocking in at over an hour–it’s certainly his most daunting release. Simply put, “Pom Pom” is unlike anything Ariel Pink has ever done.

The opener, “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade” sets the tone for the entire album. Its whimsical, carefree hook is strangely infectious. The songwriting is eccentric. It is an unforgettable first impression. The following six songs make up for one of the most triumphant song streaks seen in an album all year: an addicting grab bag of catchy hooks and danceable melodies.

The second half of the album outdoes the strangeness of the first. Consequently, it is this second half where “Pom Pom” falls short of being something spectacular. Tracks like “Negativ Ed,” “Dinosaur Carebears” and “Jell-o” seem to be too weird for their own good. They offset the flow of the album by tossing any musical consistency out the window. This gives them the impression of filler tracks: songs that the album could most certainly do without.

However, this second half is not without great moments. Tracks like “Black Ballerina” and “Picture Me Gone” help bring the album back together. The final track, “Dayzed Inn Daydreams” is a perfectly crafted closer, giving the album a proper send off.

Luckily, “Pom Pom’s” strong points are bright enough to outshine the duller ones. It is an experimental take on pop music that will have both fans and newcomers pleased. Going through the album in its entirety and attempting not to smile or dance is a challenge worthy enough for an Internet meme. While not the greatest album of 2014, it is without a doubt the most exciting.

“Pom Pom” will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 18 via 4AD records.


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