Pop music, when you really think about it, is a frightening thing. There are designations to what makes a pop album a pop album, just as the situation is with any genre. However, for pop, it is slightly different. There is a formula but there isn’t. This makes talking about pop music specifics difficult. Fortunately, though, Fermata over Whole Rest has a fairly good idea of what makes a great pop album. And here is what we think the the best one of 2010 is.
“Before Today” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti is, what I believe, the finest pop album to come around in a while. At first glance, you don’t believe that this is what Ariel Pink has “devolved” to. This is simply because his upgraded sound didn’t come with a de-evolution, but rather the largest upgrade that no one saw coming. Ariel Pink, in year’s past, was something of an entity in the DIY independent music scene. Now he’s basically shown up everyone, bringing up that the probably horrendous sound quality wasn’t a disguise for something awful, however slightly unnecessary. The point Ariel Pink brings across on “Before Today” is that he really loves making pop music.
From songs like “Bright-Lit Blue Skies”, a top-notch cover that is far more than what should be expected of the average cover, the unpredictably sprawling masterpiece of “Round and Round”, and the infatuated, ironic love tune of “Can’t Hear My Eyes”, he brings together influences from several 60s, 70s, and 80s pop and rock artists. He essentially takes all of these decades, smashes them into one, and calls the result his own. Ariel Pink purists have something of a bridge to cross to tell people to listen to “Before Today” or not. Well, you know, I find that insanely pretentious of them to say that he didn’t come out and give his absolute all for a release that not only mattered, but should be stated as his best work yet.