Ariel Pink - Pom Pom (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Ariel Pink

Pom Pom (2014)


Pom pom is an album riding on a lot of attention all happening at once. Pink just finished producing Madonna (which actually makes some sense), has some acclaim, and also made some troll-y sexist comments to cap off the year. This is also his first new album without his band and one where the esteemed/just weird Kim Fowley wrote five songs from his hospital bed (including one of the best songs, "Nude Beach a Go-Go"). So why the low rating?

Because at the end of the day Ariel Pink is the biggest hipster in pop music, a guy who sings and screams like he doesn't really care about what he's doing and is making music as a joke. This is a matter of taste of course: my favorite bands are the kind of bands where they seem to urgently need to sing and play, like their hearts will just give out if they don't get to do this right fucking NOW. And I love a lot of jokey, goofy music (Cramps, Misfits, early 60s garage) but even then the musicians in question seem to want do make the music and don't treat it as a joke in and of itself, the difference between pessimism and apathy. Ariel Pink seems to be rolling his eyes and shrugging his shoulders every time he sings one of the garage-electro songs on here, like he took notes from Alfred E. Neuman. A lot of bands get critiqued for being shallow, jokey hipsters but Pink might actually be one.

Don't get me wrong, the music here isn't actually bad - it's hooky as hell, a la "Nude Beach a Go-Go", and the best songs actually seem a little sincere and are less grounded in carelessness, like the 60s indie ballad "Put Your Number On My Phone" and the epic, spiraling "Picture Me Gone". But this is an hour and change of music that for the most part doesn't need to exist at all. Pink made an album for people who don't get sincerity, make music just because they can and think emotional investment is weird. As far as I'm concerned, they can have it.