The new album from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Mature Themes, feels very similar to MGMT’s Congratulations.
Both bands, capable of creating irresistible pop, have resisted the attention and expectations that come with such talents. 2010’s catchy “Round and Round” brought Ariel Pink moderate success, but Mature Themes bears little resemblence to it.
The gossamer “Only In My Dreams” feels built for success and the album closes with a strong cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson's "Baby”, but for most of the album it sounds like the band is actively trying to avoid the sound it made popular. Where MGMT was trying to experiment with new sounds, Ariel Pink is actually returning to previous habits. It appears 2010’s Before Today was an exception and not a new path.
Mature Themes is often grating. The annoyances come in many forms: the lazy repetition of the “Schnitzel Boogie,” the overdose of silliness in “Symphony Of The Nymph,” and the childish sexual lyrics through out the album.
The artistic urge to push boundries is understandable, but it’s frustrating that Ariel Pink couldn’t find a way to infuse some of its shimmering charm into the album’s exploratory tracks. The uneven pace and harsh transitions seem playful at the beginning of the album, but they grow old quickly.
Surrounding solid singles with songs strange for the sake of being strange is a filmsy blueprint for an album. If you’re a recent fan of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, it’s best to download “Only In My Dreams” and “Baby” and skip the rest of Mature Themes.
Mature Themes will be released on August 21. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti will play the Cat’s Cradle on September 11 with Bodyguard and Moon Diagrams. Tickets are $15.