http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/11/and-star-power-foxygen.html). Well, here's another one. I've heard the previous two albums of Ariel Pink, but always thought there was something missing to make it attractive to me. Not that pom pom has something extremely attractive, far from, but is so strange that it becomes appealing somehow. Not unlike that Rivella add.
It does seem as if people in Los Angeles have been put on a heavy, early-Zappa diet. His influence is in the music, the (treatment and way of) singing and the odd changes in the songs. On top of that the total madness, everything goes and the weird lyrics. Yes, it's 1967 all over again. in so many different ways in music nowadays and Zappa is back also. In the case of Foxygen several critics called it artistic suicide. But didn't Frank Zappa have a long, diverse and interesting career? Next to that, of the few reviews that I read, Zappa was never mentioned. So is he forgotten already or just unknown to the hip young reviewer?
Ariel Pink was born as Ariel Rosenberg and lives and works out of Los Angeles. He started recording music in the previous millennium, although his first official release was in 2003, through the band Animal Collective. pom pom is his 10th album and the first under his artist name only. His band is still on the record, as are many other collaborators. A special note is that four of the songs on pom pom were written by Kim Foley, especially for Ariel Pink, on his sickbed. Foley passed away on 15 January 2015.
I find that whether I really like pom pom is the wrong question to ask. pom pom is an experience. A ride to undergo in wonder, wide-eyed and open-mouthed; hurtling, running, stumbling, falling and getting up again, from surprise to surprise. In between I encounter these gems like 'Put your number in my phone'. Poppy with a strange twist, trippy, extremely touching in a dirty, hippie sort of way. 'Nude beach a go-go', one of Foley's songs, is almost more Frank Zappa than Zappa's Mothers of Invention on 'Freak out'. The song could have been on there, sung by Ray Collins. Freaky weirdness combined with that pop guitar (sound) of the late 50s.
At the same time there is a punk layer that is mixed with 60s psychedelics and rock guitars. 'Goth bomb' is the best example of this mix. Layer upon layer of guitars, that jump and shout out. From The Clash all the way back to Jorma Kaukonen's lead guitar and some classic rock lead licks. In short anything is possible on pom pom. The next song takes the listener into another corner, up, down, carnival sounds, Latin church recitations, kazoo, what not. Total silliness. Less the walk.
This is enough to know about pom pom, I find. If you like a lot of weirdness in your music, enjoy finding treasures in a field of mud, pearls between the swines or are just plain curious what this is all about: this is your album. Just brace yourself, put it on and let go for over an hour. It may well be that you stop listening within the first minute. If not, you're in for a surprise. I dare you.
You can listen to 'Put your number in my phone' here: