Album: Mature Themes
Ariel Rosenberg is a mad genius. The music world needs mad geniuses, and Rosenberg has been living on the far outskirts of mainstream pop music and now with his project Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti he has firmly established himself as the leader of the fringe. Every art medium needs their fringe leaders whether it’s Duchamp, Bukowkski, or Devo. Ariel Pink however probably has more resemblance in the music world to Sparks. While Devo was able to break through the semi-mainstream with “Whip it”, Sparks never really were able to do it which may foreshadow Ariel’s musical future, but with Mature Themes, Ariel is dabbling ever closer to perhaps accidentally finding a hit because there’s some really great stuff on this record.
In a perfect album kick off, Ariel asks the question “Who sunk my battleship?” he answers his own question with the realization that “I sunk my battleship”, and so it goes for a very catchy opening track “Kinski Assassin.” Followed up by one of the harder tracks “Is This the Best?” gives the album a very kicking groove, and starts to put some thought into your head that this just may be the best. “Mature Themes” and “Only in My Dreams” bring a more laid back vibe that is more of the direction that Ariel Pink has set out on as he ventures into a broader sound. Just when you think that album is going to get political and serious with “Driftwood” and “Early Birds of Babylon”, he brings it back down to the low brow with “Schnitzel Boogie”. That’s really the genius of Ariel Pink, he’s so self aware of what’s happening with his music, he inherently knows when it needs to be taken down a notch. “Pink Slime” starts off like it’s the soundtrack to “Body Break” or some PBS educational show, which makes you start to wonder just how demented this album can get, and “Farewell American Primitive” follows up on that theme. The album ends with a brilliant cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s “Baby. It’s a slow jam that’s still a great song, but fits well with some modern adaptation.
Even mad geniuses it appears can grow up, which is reassuring, for all of us that go into to our day jobs with our button down decorum having to hold back our inner weirdo. When you realize you’re a weirdo, it takes a while to accept that fact, and when you find artists like Ariel Pink that speak to that part of you, it’s very reassuring to know that they too can evolve while staying true to their roots. I’ll be following Ariel Pink’s progress, to see what chapter we will take next with our lives. -Michael Unger