Mature Themes

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LA-based oddball (which is seemingly necessary to say in every review of him) Ariel Pink’s latest Mature Themes sees it opening with the playful, cheesy organ-led “Kinski Assassin”, a highly arch opener oddly reminiscent of the Divine Comedy (the Neil Hannon fronted band, not Dante’s epic poem) and sets the tone for the rest of the album with its references to “Blow jobs of death” and all. Sharing an almost psychotically obsessed preoccupation with sex like its namesake Klaus Kinski, its jaunty tune masks a grubby underbelly which is prevalent throughout the album. The album continues in a similar vein with “Is This The Best”, with its ZX Spectrum throwback alike tune and proclamation of “G-Spot! H-Bomb! Let’s Go!” spouted like some demented sprite. However, despite the overt experimentation on offer throughout, the album does sometimes feel like a bit of a throwaway effort with the harmonic feedback of “Schnitzel Boogie” and the bass driven “Driftwood” being cases in point. Where the album does succeed is with such songs as the closer “Baby”, a sleazy slow groove which to these ears is reminiscent of the Rolling Stones oft neglected “Heaven”, and “Nostradamus & Me”, effectively a 7 minute mood piece. As for the other elements of the album, it is certainly a mixed bag of half formed ideas and schizophrenic musicality although I’m sure the nod to Status Quo’s atrocious “Marguerita Time” on “Farewell American Primitive” was unintentional. I’m all for irony but that would perhaps be going a little bit too far... 2010’s Before Today was undoubtedly one of that year’s best albums and it was always going to be a struggle for Ariel Pink to match that. Mature Themes is, on the surface, a comparatively commercial and upbeat album despite the various musical avenues it ventures up but a lyrical preoccupation with sex in all its forms (“Shemales hopped up on meth” anyone?) shows that Ariel Pink’s musical fingernails will always be that little bit dirty. He’s certainly not ready for prime time just yet but in many respects I guess that’s just the way he likes it.