Top 5: Ariel Pink

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Before Today
Street: 06.08

Ariel Pink is a scary, bat-shit insane homeless man residing in an old abandoned tunnel of reverb. His albums have always been speckled with moments of lucidity and genius, but good portions were just homeless rambling. This time he was given a budget and a producer, who took a cheesecloth and chinois and strained out all of the bad acid vibes. This is by far his most cohesive album, partially because it was actually recorded as a whole and not compiled like the others, and it is impressive. Without all of the tape-hiss and crackling, Ariel really shines through, in a low-budget 80s movie kind of way. The album opens up with an airplane flying overhead in “Hot Body Rub,” a song that has succeeded in giving me Vietnam War flashbacks. After the weird saxophones are done coaxing you in, you are treated to a cover of Rockin’ Ramrods’ 1966 garage-rock song “Bright Lit Blue Sky,” which is actually one of my favorite songs on the album. It is really quite the production, with choir-like backing vocals during the chorus (not the usual creepy falsettos that are typical of Ariel Pink). My other favorites from this album were actually included in far less satisfying forms in previous releases: “Round and Round” is the best example of something creepy being melted down to a perfect pop song (so perfect at times, I forget who I am listening to). “Beverly Kills” is either a love song or a statement about freedom of press—either way, the Tarzan yells near the end get me aroused. It’s a song that is a good example of garage-pop at its finest. Ariel Pink has finally reached accessibility while keeping his eccentricity intact. Before Today features more pop songs than ever, but it was still able to weird me out. ­–Cody Hudson