Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Before Today
Pitchfork: We know from interviews that Ariel Pink grew up absorbing throwaway pop from the 70s and 80s, finding a way to make it all fit into his cracked worldview. Something overlooked about those songs, though, is that the people writing them were pros who knew something about intros, codas, and middle-eights, how a certain kind of chord change can cause the turnaround to the chorus to hit a little harder. Ariel Pink's best songs are surprising, and there's a real sense of musical delight on Before Today; the sections sound logical but never predictable, and there are wild bridges and short bits that emerge seemingly randomly but wind up taking the song somewhere unexpected. So "L'estat (Acc. to the Widow's Maid)" goes from a rollicking organ-led opening section to a catchy call-and-response chorus hook the Monkees might have liked to a short double-time instrumental section to a jubilant coda, and all the while the stitches never show. Songs like "Little Wig" have so many interesting interlocking parts that they can almost feel proggy, despite their relative brevity and tight pop structures.
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