It’s been kinda a while since an Ariel Pink album graced RSTB, and it’s definitely been a bit since one found its way onto my shelf. Following the cemented syrup-psych-in-boat-shoes classic that was Before Today Pink never quite hit the bar I was hoping for. Mature Themes was to many a defiant slap in the face to those who thought he’d go full-scale pop. For every “Only In My Dreams” he penned a “Schnitzel Boogie,” and hey, the man’s never promised anything other than personal indulgence, so why would we expect any less? It was, for all intents and purposes, an Ariel Pink album through and through, but the promise that it left hanging still stung.
2014’s Pom Pom didn’t deliver the stone cold shiver-shod studio deep dive either. Rather it explored more lo-fi freakouts with a Beefheart crust and left plenty of elbow room to wander stylistically. So here we arrive at Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, a cheeky reference to this very quandary of promises supposedly left unfulfilled. For those unfamiliar, Jameson himself was poised for accessible fame in the ’60s but found it always just out of reach – getting mixed in a twist of bad management, questionable decisions and drugs. So, in case there was ever a line of thinking that Pink wasn’t self-aware, quash that notion right here and now.
With that in mind, one would expect this to be Pink’s own further ‘fuck you’ to anyone looking for transcendence. Not so, it would seem. There’s still a trademark style dial-shift to the album that’s pure Pink, but in every aspect this comes off as an record planned and planed to its core to be a pop artifact. The psychedelic swaddling feels like it only accentuates the smoother moments. There are very few instances when he seems to need an external editor to whittle the album to its core (see again: Pom Pom). Instead this winds up being one of Pink’s most enigmatic albums yet. The pop is as chewy as ever – exemplified by the trio of “Feels Like Heaven,” “Another Weekend,” and the title track. The concept ties it down and the Robert Beatty artwork can’t be beat. This might be as close to closure as I could ever hope for. It might also be the album he’s always hinted was lurking in the heart of the beast. Or maybe that’s still yet to come. Either way, this is a definite step in the right direction.
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