ARIEL PINK //

Mature Themes (4AD)

14/20

There’s some incredible craftsmanship to be found on Mature Themes, epitomised by the stunningly addictive guitar lead and vocal hook of opener Kinski Assassin. It sets the scene for a foundation of 60s psych-pop, established by the 12-string guitars of Byrds-esque Only In My Dreams and the chanting vocals of the Love-inspired title track. But before long the journey gets weirder. The brilliant sci-fi/western soundscape of Driftwood, the Bauhaus horror story Early Birds of Babylon, and the elated Mario Kart racetrack Live It Up are among the highlights of the tour, and the soulful cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s Baby holds a beautiful, reflective space as a bookend to the album. Other stops are more testing – Schnitzel Boogie and Pink Slime cross the line of credibility, with the former’s nonsensical subject matter and the latter’s drugged-up McDonald’s advert aesthetic. There’s no Round and Round either, and on the whole this album may be more challenging to those who’d been won over by the 2010’s more accessible Before Today. The musical theme park of Mature Themes isn’t going to settle any arguments about Ariel Pink. The LSD- soaked lyrics and schizophrenic genre-mashing isn’t for everyone. But those who can embrace the meticulous arrangements here will savour the experience.

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Words: James Balmost

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