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Tablet Summer Playlist: Ariel Pink

Ariel Marcus Rosenberg comes of age

Adam Chandler
June 24, 2013
(Self-Titled Mag.)
(Self-Titled Mag.)

In a world atomized by the internet, where music is easier to share and easier to find, it’s still difficult for the little guy to find a home in digital libraries overrun by the big guys. One example: LA’s Ariel Pink–born Ariel Marcus Rosenberg–whose popularity has been rising slowly since 2004, but is now edging his way into the mainstream with a sound so variegated it defies labels.

Do you like the Beach Boys? The Zombies? Moody Blues? Michael Jackson?

Ariel Pink and his band Haunted Graffiti may be your summer jam. First up: “Only in My Dreams,” a beautiful and easily digestible piece of psychedelic pop from the band’s most recent album Mature Themes.

That’s not to say all of Ariel Pink is quite so accessible. Amid the care-free glee, there’s some glam and some noise and dark humor. The song “Schnitzel Boogie” is one experimental example. On the other end of the spectrum is the sedate and soulful “Baby,” carried by a baseline that would make lovers of Al Green say a small prayer. For many, that’s part of the charm.

In 2010, Pitchfork Media, the venerable, oft-maligned purveyors of bombastic high-brow musical criticism, named Ariel Pink’s “Round and Round” the number one song of 2010 just ahead of the likes of Kanye West, LCD Soundsystem, and other industry juggernauts and indie darlings.

“Round and Round” is knowing and self-conscious, commenting on itself as a song as it unfolds. That bass/vibes line goes round and round, there are lyrics about air guitar and a frontman, and Ariel Pink whispers “breakdown” during a breakdown. This is music that gets over on its astonishing level of craftsmanship, which is something no casual Ariel Pink fan accustomed to his blown-out home recorded lo-fi output over the last decade would have expected from him in a million years.

Have a listen here, especially if your Monday is dragging a little bit and/or you’re nursing a hangover from a Sunday summer wedding.

Or if this version is a little too indie-disco for your stylings, consider this beautiful version sung by the adorable school children of PS22.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.