Album Review

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, ‘Before Today’

By James Reed
Globe Staff / July 19, 2010

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An Ariel Pink record usually gives the sensation that you’re tuning into AM radio, inching along from one end of the dial to the other. With that comes all sorts of thrills — snatches of strange sounds and disparate genres and the notion that you’re caught in a time warp. Inevitably, though, you also get a lot of static and incoherence. Simply put, that’s been both the strength and weakness of Pink, a home-recording artist whose music can thrill you with its ideas and then drive you mad with shoddy fidelity. With “Before Today,’’ Pink has finally made an album that streamlines his excesses and plays up his ear for memorable pop melodies. Pink benefits from recording with a full band rather than toiling alone. A cover of “Bright Lit Blue Skies’’ — originally by a long-lost 1960s Boston band called the Rockin’ Ramrods — is a blast of beach-blanket pop music. Even better is “Round and Round,’’ with its jagged interludes and echoes of Arthur Russell. A metaphor for life as a merry-go-round, the song eventually comes into focus and ramps up into a wild roller-coaster ride. The same could be said of this exhilarating album. (Out now)

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti plays at the Middle East Downstairs on July 25.

Indie Rock
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, ‘Before Today’
ESSENTIAL “Round and Round’’