Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti | Mature Themes
Indie’s class clown returns with his signature mix of pop jingles and bizarre oddities.
Ariel Pink is perhaps one of the last people you would look toward for maturity, so luckily his first album since the 2010 breakthrough “Before Today” is only ironically titled. Unsurprisingly, there is a large supply of immaturity and weirdness throughout, including lyrics about “testicle bombs,” schnitzels and the declaration: “My name is Ariel, and I’m a nympho.” Still, Pink balances these head-scratching indulgences with his love of classic ‘60s pop, showcased in the jangly guitars and warm harmonies of “Only In My Dreams” and in the title track. A Los Angeles native, Pink seems to capture the feel of his hometown in his music; it’s druggy, forward-thinking and really hip. While it is certainly not for everyone and lacks any material on the level of “Round and Round,” “Mature Themes” is an excellent showcase of what makes Pink one of the most influential and truly unique figures in music today.
Recommended If You Like: John Maus, R. Stevie Moore, Los Angeles
By Cameron Meindl
Bloc Party | Four
With their first album in four years, Bloc Party struggle to reconnect with their sonic inspirations both past and present.
For a band with such a promising debut record, Bloc Party’s continuous redefinition is somewhat disappointing. Between “A Weekend In The City”’s naive grandiosity and “Intimacy”’s fumbling electronica, the band has struggled to recapture “Silent Alarm”’s ambitious, hook-ridden guitar pop. At its best, “Four” attempts another go-around at the melodic post-punk that made the group famous, with guitarists Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack again trading jittery, staccato riffs over pulsing snares on standouts “Valis” and “Octopus.” However, the record stumbles with head-bang-inducing clunkers like opener “So He Begins To Lie,” with interplay between heavy power chords and wailing vocals that rudely disrupt the album’s otherwise sensible arrangement of riffy indie rock and 80’s-inspired ballads.
RIYL: Hot Hot Heat, Franz Ferdinand, Paramore
By Maxwell Tani
Eternal Summers | Correct Behavior
Eternal Summers delivers fuzzy pop with youthful exuberance and charm — and a serious punk edge.
The first track of dream-punk band Eternal Summers’ “Correct Behavior” is deceiving. “Millions” is a perfect summer pop song with anthemic riffs and sweet vocals. “Correct Behavior” is much more then sunny hooks; creepy distortion, cacophonous drums and a dark punk aura set Eternal Summers apart from easy comparisons like Best Coast or the Dum Dum Girls.
Nicole Yun’s voice has that same clear and effortless quality, but on songs like “You Kill” she stretches her range to its breaking point, with electrifying results. Drummer Daniel Cundiff takes a turn doing vocals on “Girls in the City,” and it sounds like a sped-up version of spoken-sung track the Velvet Underground would have done. It is followed by the stormy “Heaven and Hell” where Yun proclaims “Death itself will die” as the drums vacillate from hard to soft. Lyrically, “Correct Behavior” is the perfect encapsulation of that summer between high school and college when you are still confined in your parent’s house with freedom only weeks away. It is a reflection of their sound: rebellious and carefree, yet cynical and dark. It is about facing the harsh reality that summer does not last forever.
RIYL: Orange Juice, Grass Widow, The Raincoats, Crocodiles