Ariel Pink’s signing to 4AD and subsequent embrace of hi-fi studio recording, plus the inclusion of his touring band in the studio, was a sugary sucker punch to his fans and the indie music press alike. As of 2010, every Haunted Graffiti release to date consisted of Pink’s smudged guitar and synth arrangements coupled with his own beatboxed ‘mouth drums,’ all cut to 4 and 8-track cassette recordings. The Doldrums, Worn Copy, and House Arrest all have their own peculiar genius, but nothing comes close to the life-affirming vocal harmonies of “Bright Lit Blue Skies” and “Round And Round” (tfw the chorus hits… unrivaled) ringing out in shimmering high fidelity. Almost every song on Before Today is an update of deep cuts originally recorded during Pink’s prolific songwriting period of the early 00s. B-sides from Oddities Sodomies (“Round And Round,” “L’estat,” “Little Wig”), Scared Famous (“Beverly Kills”) and Grandes Exitos (“Can’t Hear My Eyes,” “Revolution’s A Lie”) get the pro studio treatment required to appropriately showcase their brilliance (btw, we’d kill for an update of “For Kate I Wait”). The entire A side is flawless: “Hot Body Rub” sets the scene depicted on the front cover with some creeping street corner sax drama, before launching into a saccharine cover of The Rockin’ Ramrods’ 1966 garage pop sleeper gem “Bright Lit Blue Skies,” and you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. “L’estat” touches on Haunted Graffiti circa House Arrest with an unpredictable suite of proggy chord changes and movements that shift between slow, fast, quiet and loud (this is the sleeper cut that gets in your head after you’ve rinsed out all the album’s singles). “Fright Night” is a dreamy new wave roller that wears Ariel’s love for The Cure on its sleeve, showcasing his entire suitcase of weird characters and voices trading bars like Rae & Ghost on Cuban Linx. “Beverly Kills” is the most obvious dancefloor banger on offer, with Ariel channeling The Bee Gees via haphazardly rolling a joint riding shotgun with the song’s titular character cruising Sunset Blvd. And let’s not forget “Round And Round,” an update of an older rarity (“Frontman” from Odditties Sodomies) and easily a top 3 Ariel Pink song, if not the number one spot. Dedicated To Bobby Jameson certainly delivered for those of us who were a little underwhelmed by Mature Themes and Pom Pom, but Before Today is the one you’ll pass on to your kids. Highly recommended.
- printed insert with lyrics
- digital download included
- music label: 4AD 2010
reviewed by Yung Pilot Astray 09/2017
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