Ariel Pink has a new album, a double LP called “pom pom,” that he’s foisting on the public sans his backing group Haunted Graffiti. The record pretty much encompasses the range of emotions that we would come to expect from him. There are oddball moments (“Dinosaur Carebears”), sexual misadventures (“Black Ballerina”), and even flashes of poignancy (the middle-aged person looking down the road to death in the haunting “Picture Me Gone”). It hangs together, though, remarkably well, creating a sprawl that is almost on the level of his 2010 Haunted Graffiti record “Before Today.” It’s a pure pop flourish.
However, “pom pom” is stylistically diverse without that getting in the way of things. “Not Enough Violence” could have quite easily come out in the early ’80s, while “Put Your Number in My Phone” is almost pastoral British pop. “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade,” the opening number, culls from bubblegum pop of the ’60s, and there are a few ’70s arena rock touches that reference Todd Rundgren. This last touchpoint is interesting because Pink is as much of (if not more of) an iconoclast as Rundgren was during that dodgy mid-’70s phase where he was dropping acid and letting his indulgences come to the fore. However, unlike Rundgren, Pink generally sidesteps touches that could be characterized as pretentious.
While it may not match the best songs on “Before Today,” “pom pom” is arguably the most consistent-sounding thing that Pink has released, even if it is stylistically over the map.