But she knows not to be scared
Of a ghost who isn’t there at all
Synth-experimental pop rock’s trouble child Ariel Pink is back after a three-year hiatus, with his new full-length LP, “Dedicated to Bobby Jameson.” After leaving behind his moniker Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti for just Ariel Pink in 2014’s “pom pom,” Pink has demonstrated an ever-growing concern with conceptualizing creative projects, and “Dedicated to Bobby Jameson” is no exception to this thematic approach. The album’s 14 songs revolve loosely around the perceived and personalized memory of Bobby Jameson, as understood and enshrined by Pink, who heard of Jameson only after the latter’s death in 2015. In that sense, the album is a monogrammed record of the sensibility that Jameson evoked in Pink, like a ghost you plead to be haunted by.
Bobby Jameson was a singer-songwriter in the 1960s, who, after a series of misadventures that included battles with alcoholism, retreated from the music industry. His musical attempts were often overlooked, but he did inspire a cult following with an album released in 1965. It is safe to say that Ariel Pink himself has been involved in a couple of misadventures over the years – after a public feud with Madonna and a squabble with Grimes, he received much scrutiny for his misogynist behavior. “Dedicated to Bobby Jameson” sees him coming out from the other side of this public spectacle, and earning his position once again as an experimental trailblazer. The album is perhaps his way of confronting his past demons and contemplating his place in the independent music industry – the album begins, after all, with the song “Time to Meet Your God.”
“Dedicated” is a solid record with layered synths and delicate beats that showcases Pink’s unparalleled talent in creating an immersive sonic universe. The single “Another Weekend” and the nod to The Cure “Feels Like Heaven” are standout tracks in Pink’s oeuvre, glowing with electrifying sentimentality. Somehow, the artist captures both nostalgia and foresight in the thematically encapsulated “I Wanna Be Young.” Although the album is not distinct in style from his previous releases – it is arguably a continuation of 2014’s “pom pom” and even 2012’s “Mature Themes”– it is a growingly introspective record for Ariel Pink. He is seen, perhaps for the first time ever, reckoning with himself, pleading “make me a man” over and over to an unnamed and unknown female figure in the track “Kitchen Witch.”
Although the album fails to reach the heights of 2010’s “Before Today,” which included superbly crafted songs such as “Round and Round” and “Can’t Hear My Eyes,” “Dedicated” is still a solid album that proves once again the inimitable genius of Pink in curating a rare sonic experience for the listener. As he reckons with the ghost of Bobby Jameson, along with the ghosts of so many other intangible beings and feelings, Ariel Pink is closer to understanding himself than ever before.
Notable Songs: Feels Like Heaven, Time to Live, Another Weekend, Kitchen Witch, Acting