My own first encounter with L.A based lo-fi new wave band Ariel Pink, was some years back when I was introduced to some of their (or at the time, his) very early demo recordings released by Animal Collective label, Paw Tracks. These were no higher quality than bedroom recordings really but the songs were incredibly hooky and memorable even in their raw form. With a back catalogue of tracks that surely reaches the hundreds, this very catchy indie outfit have refined and sculpted their sound over the years to this point, where we are pleasantly greeted with their latest release titled Dedicated to Bobby Jameson.
As if they have extracted the essence of their wonderfully simple California songwriting in previous efforts, the first track we encounter on this record is Feels Like Heaven; a real jangly sun-soaked dream of a pop song. It really demonstrates the beauty of how lo-fi sound and recording techniques can push a simple song into obscure, non-linear form. From my own experience, Ariel Pink are truly great at essentially using their talents to distort the lines between genres.
This is made even more clear as we move into the next few tracks including the title track Dedicated to Bobby Jameson which displays a strong sixties era influence; appropriate I guess given the man himself was the era’s cult icon for some. What they manage to do is avoid writing the cliché 60’s song like so many before them, but push a very contemporary take on a classic sound; the result of which is incredibly pleasant on the ears. We are then invited to delve into other genres further into this record including funk and soul, even stretching to punk in tracks Acting and Revenge of the Iceman, respectively.
In summary, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson represents an interesting point for the band, where it is both your typical and atypical Ariel Pink album in direction, execution and delivery. What they have undoubtedly achieved here is another brilliant progressive record to blur genre boundaries that still manages to keep its routes firmly in the rich heritage of its past. A true best of both.