Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti crew have been racking up hipster cred and media acclaim for a few years now with seriously wacked lo-fi pop. And though his last effort, 2007's Scared Famous, isn't the Los Angeles auteur's best effort (that would be House Arrest), it has its share of fuzzy bubblegum gems.
Ariel's artistry consists mainly of warping his perception of AM radio golden oldies into multi-layered simulacra of irony and sublimity—although he'll swear he's sincere. He erodes pop music's hoary mannerisms into alternative-universe chart fodder. His tunes are often so chintzy-sounding, they become poignant—and pathetic, but in an ambiguous way. The production is just off and swathed in funhouse-mirrored reverb, but its obliquity somehow lends a touching, empathetic glow to songs that stick in your head, like jingles promoting products for which you have no use.
Ariel achieves a kind of reverse alchemy, and it's either brilliantly awful or awfully brilliant, depending on your tolerance for meager-budget, cheese-encrusted songs. Recommended if you like R. Stevie Moore, Ween, The Frogs and musicians who spend more money on psychedelics than on recording gear.