“Bring on the bogan shemales hopped up on meth..”
As a follow up to Before Today released back in 2010, ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI are back with Mature Themes, which, judging by the lyrics [above] from their opening track ‘Kinski Assassin’, is a title true to it’s name. Not for those attentive young folk!
But even more so, it’s an LP that has really given much delight to Ariel and the crazy-good Haunted Graffiti as it is the latest addition to their fantastic catalogue. This particular record has enabled the band to create a more matured and sophisticated collection of obscure lyrics and lo-fi sounds.
“It’s so diverse but so different from anything I’ve done before. In a sense, it’s really the record I wanted to make back when I made Before Today, but couldn’t. We had time to let our hair down and try new things.” Although it is quite different to earlier works, Ariel Pink still manages to capture that raw intensity throughout the entirety of Mature Themes.
An album written and recorded in a downtown, LA studio-space, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti have created an eccentric and impeccably crafty work of art. Probably explains why it was awarded Feature Album for Triple R, 2SER and RTR FM.
‘Kinski Assassin’ opens Mature Themes and throws you right into the wacky planetary of Ariel’s imagination. With a voice as hypnotic as his, he describes a world of destruction and hate with every verse either mentioning blowjobs, masturbation or genitalia. It’s guided by an organ singing all the way through.
With a quivering guitar making up the intro of ‘Is This The Best Spot’, you expect the first heavy song of the record. But don’t. Another track lubricated with sexual terminology, Ariel issues that you step into his time warp, all in just under two minutes.
Now the first two tracks may have allowed a few cheeky lyrics here and there with some mind-boggling instrumentation, but the third and title track off Mature Themes is a delightful little detour into the treasures of Ariel’s quality song writing. Executed with soft acoustic guitar, dazzling keys and gentle percussion, Pink invites us to listen to his love story where all he wants is to “talk about mature themes daily” and “to be good.”
‘Only In My Dreams’ is an optimistic tune. Don’t worry if you don’t succeed at love, just dream about that special someone instead. Let’s be honest though, a relationship in your head isn’t all that fun. This is frustrated through the instrumentation by the end of the song. The diverse range of guitar, drums, percussion and keys bring a lot of tone and strength to this piece. It’s coloured by the cutesy lyrics and backing vocalists which may as well be a mini choir. If this one sounds familiar that’s probably because you’ve heard it make airwaves on your radio as it is the first Australian single from the new record.
Think thick, addictive bass lines, twangy guitars, spoken word lyrics and tribal drumming and you have yourself ‘Driftwood.’ A song almost sounding like a chant, it’s one to listen to with feathers in your hair dancing around a fire. Probably just one of many different ways of how Pink expects you to listen to his music.
‘Early Birds Of Babylon’ delves into the deeper, mysterious part of Mature Themes. There is nothing uplifting nor upsetting about this track, it is simply just very suspicious. Made up of dark and powerful guitars, bass and drums, you’ll most likely end up feeling like you’re a part of an Ariel Pink cult. Then again, I guess we all already are..
Ever wanted to hear a song encompassing the desire for a Schnitzel? Maybe you wanted to hear the contents of a burger sung simply for your listening pleasure. Well ‘Schnitzel Boogie’ does exactly that. This tasteful track is the epitome of lo-fi. It basically consists of good fuzz and the summoning of a schnitzel for four and a half minutes.
‘Symphony Of The Nymph’ is made up of churchly organs, Pink admitting to being a “nympho” and horse neighs. Opening up similar to Kurt Vile‘s ‘In My Time’, expect patches of sample tracks appearing throughout the song; before it all swallows up.
When I hear the intro music to ‘Pink Slime’, I’m reminded of Donny Benet doing his disco thing. This track reintroduces the lighter, fluffier corner of the album as not only do the band sing, the synthesisers do too.
‘Farewell American Primitive’ is a real ‘fuck everything’ type of song. The chilled out guitar does nice things for your ears as it sings over the top of a jovial bassline and subtle drums. With an odd break halfway through the song, rejoice as Pink continues to surprise you.
‘Live It Up’ takes you back to c.1980s with its clean and crafty synthesisers taking up most of the song. So much so that Pink has to remind himself of where he was going with it..
The longest and most gratifying track on the record is ‘Nostradamus & Me’. It’s a floaty, breathy fantasy equipped to take you to a whole new dimension. It reminds me of Bastian riding on the back of Falkor as he soars through the sky in Neverending Story. Perfect.
To close such a delirious album is ‘Baby’, the most sensual track on all of Mature Themes. It’s soft, pretty yet still a little hazy. Incorporating a feel-good, early R’n’B vibe, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti couldn’t have chosen a better song to end on.
Mature Themes is a chillwave album full of euphoria and mood shifts. Once you listen to the whole thing, you’ll understand the importance of the title and how much of a genius Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti are.
It’s available now on 4AD/Remote Control Records. Definitely buy it.
Published on Purple Sneakers.