Album Picks: Ariel Pink, TV on the Radio, Whirr/Nothing

Posted by Billy Gil, November 18, 2014 10:18am | Post a Comment

Ariel Pink - pom pom (LP, CD, Download)

Forget everything you’ve read about Ariel Pink. His public persona has nothing to do with his music, which has never been more remarkable than it is on pom pom. “Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade” begins the album by approximating decades of children’s music, family VHS tapes and video game music into a multicolored parade of half-remembered sounds. On tracks like “White Freckles,” Pink taps into similar territory of outdated interstitial music and lyrics and sounds inspired by advertising, pouring his exaggerated lothario presence all over them and ending up with sticky-sweet concoctions that leave you feeling titillated and slightly nauseated. Nothing that could possibly be interesting gets thrown away in Pink’s world—“Lipstick” could be based on an adult contemporary jam you never learned the name of; “Nude Beat A Go-Go” is like a perved-up version of a Frankie & Annette movie theme song. This means there are a few tracks you’ll skip past, but it’s better to have the full Pink treatment, making pom pom feel more crucial than 2012’s somewhat cleaned-up Mature Themes. And the singles are killer. “Put Your Number in My Phone” is a new cheese classic in silk pajamas. “Black Ballerina,” like its precursor, Before Today’s “Round and Round,” is a sick roller rink jam, with a disjointed narrative flowing through. And “Picture Me Gone” takes Pink’s simmering Beach Boys influence into a gossamer synth ballad. So he’s kind of a creep. But pom pom is proof that for all his off-putting proclivities, Ariel Pink still makes some of the most fascinating and entertaining pop music around. 


TV On The Radio - Seeds (LP, CD)

TV on the Radio continue their trajectory from Brooklyn noisemakers to arena headliners on their fine fifth album, Seeds. “Quartz” is a wide-open choral love song with some of Tunde Adebimpe’s most heartfelt vocals. The Beach Boys-inspired “Careful You” sails on slow-rolling waves of synthesizer. The propulsive “Happy Idiot” is the kind of brainy indie-rocker that only TVOTR can produce so well. You miss some of their early adventurousness; the hooks come easy here, as on the catchy “Right Now.” But it’s easier said than done to inject such widely appealing music with seamless experimentation—and vice versa. A sterling example is “Could You,” with a krautrock-inspired backbeat that sets the foundation for a densely layered track full of horns and golden harmonies. On Seeds, TVOTR feel energized and as vital as ever, perfecting the balance between producing music that is both viscerally enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.


Whirr/Nothing Split (LP)

Two closely associated bands, Oakland’s Whirr and Philadelphia’s Nothing, each offer two of their best songs yet on this Split LP. Though the bands’ chief selling points are the mountainous shoegaze guitars each offer, this EP finds Whirr and Nothing in an especially melodic mode, making it an excellent entry point for the work of both bands.

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Album Picks (146), New Albums (213), New Releases (214), Ariel Pink (33), Tv On The Radio (11), Whirr (6), Nothing (6)