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Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

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Artist: Ariel Pink

Review

Ariel Pink followed Pom Pom -- a wild album even by his standards -- with a set of songs inspired by an artist who defined outsider status. For a few years in the '60s, Bobby Jameson was a fixture of L.A.'s psych-rock scene before dropping out due to mental health and substance issues, then reemerged in the late 2000s to share his thoughts on life and the music industry on his blog and YouTube channel until his death in 2015. He proves to be a potent muse for Pink on Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, an album that gives a little more shape to the themes of wish fulfillment, disappointment, and mortality that he's explored over the years. In a sense, the album sees Pink reclaiming some of his own outsider status: It appeared on Mexican Summer instead of 4AD, the home of some of his most popular albums, and it returns to the murky sound of his earlier work, which Pink uses as an expression of Jameson's past and his own. The title track's moody verses and bright, shiny choruses reflect L.A.'s duality, while the similarly quixotic psych-pop of "Dreamdate Narcissist" falls somewhere between the Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Electric Prunes. As amusing as impish takes on matters of the afterlife and death like "Time to Meet Your God," "Time to Live," and the Zappa-esque "Death Patrol" are, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson's subtler subversions are among its best. On songs like "Feels Like Heaven" and "Bubblegum Dreams," Pink delivers candy-coated pop fantasies with ironic cores, while "Another Weekend" and "I Wanna Be Young" use slightly decaying soft rock to convey their strangely poignant wish fulfillment. Of course, it wouldn't be an Ariel Pink album with too many limitations, even though the obvious path to success would mean cutting oddities like "Santa's in the Closet" and "Acting," a collaboration with Dam-Funk that sounds like every word has quotation marks around it. Regardless, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson is a weird, catchy, thought-provoking celebration of individuality that offers one Pink's most appealing balances of sugary accessibility and irreverent indulgence. ~ Heather Phares