Pom Pom is a peak in the career of an unpredictable, but somehow eternally-satisfying artist. Though, that seems to be exactly what a genius is. And 4AD wunderkind, Ariel Pink, is certainly genius. Even if his latest record finds you uneasy or scratching your head, the construction behind every song is immaculate, deliberate, and relentless. Each song taking you into such a different and bizarre corner and musical epoch of Pink’s mind. Pom Pom escapes genres, escapes time, and just plain gets away from you. At times the record acts as a chronological look at what and where pop has been, and is going. Several times throughout listening, you may find yourself thinking you’ve cornered the aspirations or inspirations behind the album, but then find it’s all for naught, as the next song transports you immediately elsewhere. Pom Pom is an experience; a ride. And though it may yank and jerk you about, it’s a thrilling ride.
Pink has certainly had a presence in the press for the past several days, from name calling Grimes, exalting Taylor Swift, and attaching himself to Madonna, he’s been unremitting in his being on everyone’s minds, whether loved or hated. And so is the road of Pom Pom, which is ultimately a testament to how much a part of him this record is. Being his first solo effort, Pink holds nothing back without his Haunted Graffiti. It uniquely stands as an album capable of sincere humour, never laughing out of stupidity, but out of surprise. Riddled with spoken segments, cataloging where you are thus far in the album. Like the joyful “Jell-o”, and the egotistical “Sexual Athletics”, it’s easy to find yourself smiling whilst listening. Though, it can take dark and dramatic turns, with the churning of “Four Shadows”, the noir of “Lipstick”, or the deeply emotive “Not Enough Violence”. Pink is able to span all thoughts or desires, pure and carnal.
Plainly put, this double album is timeless and generational; managing to be heavily nostalgic AND forward thinking. Though Pink may indulge himself too much at times, we can still find our way to him and appreciating how self-referential the music is. It’s penetrating! His music may be too unscalable for some, but for the moderately patient and optimistic listener, Pom Pom can be an answer to musical prayers. Maybe the most accessible part of Pom Pom are its lyrics. Pink is direct and isn’t prone to shroud his songs in poetic mystery. What you hear is an earful, but an honest earful.
A star track “Picture Me Gone”, tells the story of a father relating to his son in the digital age. Pink reminds us that it is indeed 2014, and what a time to be alive it is. Not only with the lyrical honesty of “iPhones” and “iClouds”, but of the heartbreaking boldness of such modern songwriting and ultimately, the passion with which he declares, “Picture me gone!”, a fiercely relatable sentiment.
In the flurry of confirmed, disputed, or confusing statements, Pink proudly remarked that he was asked to work on new material for Madonna’s upcoming album, “They need something edgy. They need songwriting," he said. "She can’t just have her Avicii, her producers or whatever, come up with a new techno jam for her to gyrate to and pretend that she’s 20 years old. They actually need songs. I’m partly responsible for that return-to-values thing.” Though the claims were later dismissed, it’s a titillating thought to imagine Pink leading a new, bold era of modern and deranged pop, seen and heard by all. Though ultimately with Pom Pom, he’s done just that. Let’s hope the whole of pop music follows in the progressive paths that Ariel Pink has just set forth.
Words: Jaren Jolley