It’s never wise to judge a book by its cover but with Ariel Pink’s Pom Pom, you at least have a good inkling of what you are letting yourself in for. Usually when the cover of an album is baby pink with song names such as ‘Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade’ and ‘Dinosaur Carebears’, you have a subconscious voice that tells you to steer well clear- and I would gently urge you to head in that direction.
There’s no doubt that Ariel is a talented musician; he’s a one man band with an insatiate taste for diverse and peculiar sounds. Unfortunately, these sounds don’t always complement each other so you end up with an alchemy of bizarre noises and sound effects- some of which sound like they have come from a child’s toy keyboard. There’s an obvious 80s influence with the synth driven tracks on the album and even hints of Lou Reed and David Bowie at times. ‘Four Shadows’ is a particularly Bowie-esque number boasting dramatic vocals and a distorted overdriven guitar solo, but that’s really as far as it gets towards an album highlight. The lead single ‘Put Your Number in My Phone’ and ‘Dayzed Inn Daydreams’ fill second and third place in resembling actual songs, yet the average is let well down by ‘Jell-o’. It’s the kind of track that leaves you thinking where the last two minutes went and how you could have spent the time doing something much more productive.
You can’t blame Pink for being experimental and adventurous, but you can blame him for inflicting us with his latest double-album effort. Perhaps it would have been wiser to release a shorter, more nuanced piece of work simply for the sake of being listenable. To sum up in a few words: awkward and off-putting.