Label: 4AD Release Date: 07/06/2010 Link: Official Myspace Even before realizing that Before Today was Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti first release under the powerful wings of 4AD, my first thoughts when I first listened to the album were: What happened to Ariel Pink? Where are those noises, echoes and scratches that made of him the bedroom rock pioneer and that used to give me headaches when listening too many times to Scared Famous? Why does every single band that I love, and gets signed by a big(ger) label, goes pop these days? Is it because musicians can’t find any more aural territories to explore or is a matter of power relationships between labels - that want a more marketable and accessible product - and the artists - that still want to experiment but are bound by contract issues and financial goals to meet? ( Devendra Banhart’s last album is another example of this, but with better results, in my opinion). As a matter of fact, Before Today is nothing but avant-garde; there’s not much left of the noise alchemist, the melancholic story teller of West coast flavoured adventures in this polished and less interesting version of himself. A part from a few highlights like the groovy ‘Beverly Kills’ and the trademark ‘Fright Night (Nevermore)’, it seems that Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti have lost their magic - and a tear runs down my cheek while I write this, since I’ve loved him since the days of Worn Copy’s ‘Life in LA’. Alternating psychedelic grooves like the sexy ‘Hot Body Rub’ and (a bit too) cheesy 80‘s funk-disco rhythms like the single that preceded the album release ‘Round and Round’, to 60’s covers like ‘Bright Lit Blue Skies’ by The Rocking Ramrods and supercharged new wave basslines and accelerated beats in ‘Revolution’s a Lie’, plus some less exciting indie like ‘L’estat’ - that on his side has got some David Bowie-esque hints of the Ziggy Stardust period - the album explores different genres and musical landscapes but it feels under-toned and not very daring, compared to the precedent releases of the band. Before Today might actually be a grower, since when the first shadow of disappointment fades away, you’ll get to appreciate the morbid bass line, falsetto choir and witty lyrics “wake me/ castrate me/ make me gay/ lady, I’m a ma-dy from today” of ‘Menopause Man’, for instance, and the synthetic groove-y melodies of the instrumental ‘Reminiscences’. This is definitely a more accessible result for the band and will probably reach a bigger audience, but, let’s be honest, it is a bit of a delusion for the fans of one the most hardcore exponents of the contemporary avant-garde experimental scene. And I still believe the bedroom acoustic is the one that more suits Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti style. Photobucket