July 10, 2012

Jonah Bromwich sang back-up vocals on Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Uncredited.

“Only In My Dreams” is gentler than gentle. It’s as if a really huge puffy cloud and a soft breeze mated and had a baby. All it makes I want to do is listen to it over and over again, preferably in a massive beanbag chair, in a shallow sleep or some sort of equally relaxing chemical haze.

Lyrically, Ariel Pink’s second single from the upcoming album Mature Themes resembles some great, lost Beach Boys levitation, with all the wistful romanticism of a “Sloop John B” or “In My Room.” It’s fitting that Pink, one of the linchpins in Simon Reynolds’ Retromania, stays making kindred spirits to songs that are nearly 60 years old. But two things particularly encourage me about Mature Themes. First, despite his sudden surge in popularity, Ariel Pink is still making pop songs. He’s not doing what I was worried he might do and retreating to the alienated fuzz of his bedroom days. Second, these songs don’t sound like inferior B-sides from Before Today. The concept has changed, the songs are more pleasant, less rough.

We ask for seemingly contradictory things from the artists we like. We want both extreme consistency and artistic evolution. But with “Only in My Dreams” and “Baby,” Ariel Pink has nailed the tricky diagonal step, making new songs that capture what we loved about his last set while still being different enough to pique interest. Here’s hoping that the rest of Mature Themes continues to move in this way, softly rocking us up and over.


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