“Dedicated to Bobby Jameson,” Ariel Pink’s first solo release since 2014’s “Pom Pom,” finds its namesake in a creator almost as strange as Pink himself.
After a brief stint of stardom in the early ‘60s, Jameson faded out of the spotlight until releasing the psych-pop magnum opus “Songs Of Protest and Anti-Protest” under the pseudonym Chris Lucey. The album, which achieved little commercial success but eventually garnered a cult following, combines “Venus in Furs,” style Velvet Underground string arrangements, passionate vocals and dark, enigmatic lyrics. After its release, Jameson once again disappeared from the public eye until 2007, when he started a blog and released a series of music videos on YouTube before his death in 2015.
Looking at Pink’s previous work, especially that with famed recluse Stevie R. Moore, it’s no mystery why he would look to a man such as Jameson for inspiration. Pink has stated on many occasions that he makes “weirdo music,” and the peculiarity extends past the songs themselves. Google searches for “Ariel Pink” return hundreds of photos of the singer-songwriter in ‘80s glam-rock outfits and pink hair.
From the opening track, “Time To Meet Your God,” which begins with a chant that blurs the line between campy silliness and a cult initiation, it’s made clear that “Dedicated” doesn’t have any intentions of fitting into the mainstream. It clearly draws inspiration from pop music of the ‘70s and ‘80s, but remains way too eclectic and strange to garner any orthodox radio play. The closing track, “Revenge of the Iceman,” is a classic punk track delivered entirely in what sounds like a pirate impression.
“Another Weekend,” the standout debut single from “Dedicated,” is an ode to lost time that sounds like Mac Demarco listened to a bunch of Daniel Johnston and discovered synthesizers. The track’s melancholic, reflective melody is periodically separated by a jarring electronic bridge, jumping from section to section of the song in a way that feels like time travel. The noisy, unconventionally composed “Time To Live,” continues the motif of passing time by burying the anthemic repetition of the line “time to live, time for life” underneath a thick layer of hazy guitar and electronic rhythms. Pink will turn 40 next year, and although his music hasn’t lost any of its usual playfulness, it seems his themes are maturing to reflect his age.
“Dedicated” is perhaps Pink’s most polished album yet — it both breaks new ground and digs into the history of, and reinterprets, psychedelic music. Longstanding fans will find much to appreciate, and those new to Pink’s music will enjoy it as a starting point into his deep catalog of experimental music that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Tracks to listen to:
“Time To Live”
“Acting (feat. Dâm-Funk)”