Ariel Pink, like his music, is a curious swirl of fantasy, existentialism, and abounding magnetism. Dedicated to Bobby Jameson is Pink’s first solo album since 2014’s pom pom, and his trademark lo-fi sound, while present on the album, continues to get stretched and reinvented throughout. The 13-track effort’s title is an ode to a real-life Los Angeles musician whose autobiography clearly had a significant impact on Pink and his own music. Dedicated to Bobby Jameson has the distinctive intimacy of a bedroom recording coupled with an expansive and unfettered imagination.
The album begins with a comical mantra on “Time to Meet Your God” where Pink utters god-themed hyperbole over and over. The schtick ends and the next song, “Feels Like Heaven”, exudes an ethereal warmth to match its name, while “Death Patrol” is a forgettable shuffling segue to the next song. A theme begins early on, where for every thought-provoking song of interest, there is another on the album that gets lost in its own self-seriousness.
The quirky “Santa’s In the Closet” strikes an odd resemblance to the 80’s one-hit wonder, Falco, with its nonsensical vocals. “Time To Live” is a head-turner that embarks on a noise-rock journey that suddenly mutates into new wave around the three-minute mark. Schizophrenic would be an appropriate adjective to characterize Pink’s erratic themes and constant mood swings.
“Bubblegum Dreams” stands out nicely with its Phil Spector-sounding production and up-tempo percussion, making it noticeably more dynamic than the rest of the album. The frenetically paced “Dreamdate Narcissist” does a good job of wrenching listeners out of the lackadaisical ennui that pervades most of the album. “Kitchen Witch” is the last song of notice on the album and it brings elements of Shoegaze into a catchy chorus that keeps repeating “Make me a man/Make me a man.”
While Ariel Pink has made his career by approaching art from unique perspectives, his willingness to lose touch with his listener works against him in certain situations. However strange his music might end up, Pink can rarely be found to be boring. Yet, the disjointed arrangement of songs and zany one-offs sprinkled throughout, take away from the overall impact of the music. Dedicated to Bobby Jameson may not be as accessible as Pink’s previous work, but in the places where the album shines, it shines bright.