By Kevin Wells
Who is the new Ariel Pink EP for? Scratch that. Who is the new Ariel Pink? On song after song on Mature Themes, he plays one character or another, sometimes inhabiting, without any apparent credit, other songwriters’ personae entirely, as on “Symphony of the Nymph”, where he dresses up and impersonates Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes for the verse, and Joe Walsh for the chorus. In actuality he’s become the poor man’s Badly Drawn Boy, a competent manager of his sound and a desperate, craven, trendfucking dilettante when it comes to the music’s philosophy… realizing that his genre currently mandates a certain fussy idiocy–defenders would claim the offbeat tradition of Zappa the way unfunny comedians invoke Andy Kaufman’s “anti-comedy”–Pink is operating as a politician.
Yes, he deigns to blow the dog-whistle his fans so badly want to hear–more Casios, more ProTools masturbation–while also making sure to give each track enough of a hook to qualify for some commercials. Don’t flatter yourself, kids … your dad is definitely Pink’s target audience now, so long as your dad is under forty and enjoys being pandered to. Case in point: the final burst of Pink’s personality disorder, excuse me I mean his new album, is a sentimental ballad named “Baby” that’s sung kind of like Smokey Robinson, played a bit like Cat Power’s “Greatest” band, and which features the head-scratching refrain, “Baby, you’re so baby”. I can see Pink now in concert, contorting the melody into something jagged and upsetting, pretending as if the studio version was not a direct bid for some of that sweet GAP airplay.
The standout song is the title track, naturally, a winsome, winning Joe Jackson rip; more appropriate would be the sub-Miss Piggy disco turd “Pink Slime”.