Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

The spooky popster storms New York.

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Irving Plaza; Sat 24

Ariel Pink, born Ariel Rosenberg, is more than happy to be an outsider. Since emerging in the early 2000s, the Los Angeles singer and songwriter has pumped out a steady stream of eerie, self-recorded indie pop. Some of his fledgling songs, recorded in bursts throughout the early part of the decade, eventually made their way to Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, who issued a series of Pink’s tapes through his band’s label, Paw Tracks. A homemade hero of sorts—and one who fully merits the label, given his relative lack of professional veneer—was born.

Due to Pink’s association with the Baltimore freak-folk icons, the music press has often lumped him in with Animal Collective’s trend toward more-experimental pop textures. But on his new record, Before Today (4AD), Pink and his band of ringers, Haunted Graffiti, owe more to ’80s radio rock. The album is most striking for lacking the murk that ruled Pink’s early, rough creations, some of which featured vocal beat-boxing in lieu of actual drum tracks, heightening his DIY reputation to a rather literal extreme.

A self-professed “fucking bum on the street,” Pink is actually a graduate of the prestigious California Institute of the Arts, a school that also launched Tim Burton—not a bad comparison for Pink, since both artists inject the dark and strange into the popular mainstream .When Pink brings his outfit and its reliably inconsistent live show to Irving Plaza, you’ll see either a fractured-genius songwriter or a pop-obsessed weirdo on the brink of madness.

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