Ariel Pink's Dedicated to Bobby Jameson Album Review

Emily Cosgrove | October 2017

Ariel Pink is one of the most unique artists I have ever encountered in my life. His enigmatic style makes him seem more like a character than an actual person. At least, as a fan of his, that is how I view him. He has a very distinct sound—lo-fi, with a very clear 80s influence. Yet, the only fitting way I can describe his style of music is simply “Ariel Pink”. He has a truly unique style that many have tried to replicate, but solely belongs to him.

His newest release is his eleventh (!!!) studio album, titled Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, and in my opinion, it is his best album yet. He manages to show a more intimate side, while still maintaining the signature Ariel Pink sound he is known for.

Upon hearing the album title, I was really curious. Who is this “Bobby Jameson” character this album is dedicated to? At first, I thought it was just some fictional character, maybe an alter-ego of Ariel’s. But, upon some research, I learned some very interesting history behind the album’s name.

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The man this album is dedicated to was actually a musician who is a very interesting, obscure character in Hollywood and music history. In the 1960s, Bobby Jameson was supposed to be THE next big thing. He opened up for the acts such as The Beach Boys and his career looked extremely promising. Once the singles he released hit the charts, they failed. He tried to release music under different names and guises, but for whatever reason - his career failed and he faded into obscurity. He ended up becoming reclusive and struggled with addiction for the rest of his life up until his death.

This whole mystery behind the persona of Bobby Jameson ended up capturing the attention of many people, and he now has a cult-like following. The dedication of this album to Bobby Jameson is fascinating to me—does Ariel relate to this enigmatic, troubled character? Does he just enjoy his music? I really appreciate that Ariel drew attention to a figure who didn’t get the success he deserved. I listened to some of Bobby Jameson’s work, and it is very good. So, thank you Ariel for introducing me to such an iconic character with a somewhat tragic story.

But—back to the album! Listening to it, there is no doubt that this is an Ariel Pink album, yet it has a new distinct flair that gave me a pleasant surprise. The album opener, “Time To Meet Your God”, is a high-energetic song that could have been a track featured on Ariel’s last studio album, Pom Pom. But, in the following tracks we are introduced to a different Ariel than we saw on the last album.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Dedicated To Bobby Jameson”, which is a little bit of psychedelic-70s influence and a little a bit of surf-rock, of course all with an Ariel Pink spin. The track, which takes its name from the album’s title, describes Bobby Jameson as “a Tinseltown tranny, and the mayor of the Sunset Strip.” It is a totally infectious, super fun track with a groovy vibe that reminds me of going on a night out with friends.

I think my favorite track of all is “Do Yourself A Favor”. It is so different from the entire album, and from most music that Ariel Pink creates. I was actually shocked when this track came on; I was completely blown away and I have had it on repeat ever since. It is such a raw, emotional song done almost all acoustically. It is just a totally honest, stripped down song which is completely different from the huge persona Ariel usually channels in his songs. It is such an intimate, real song that makes me view Ariel Pink as not just a big superstar character, but an actual person. It’s beautiful.

There is not a bad song on this entire album. I think the thing that stands out on this album, and every album, that Ariel Pink makes is his voice. It is extremely versatile. He does not necessarily have a classically trained voice, but he does unique things with his voice that no one else can do. One minute he is shouting in an almost robot-like manner, in another he is singing a soft, sweet love song. I cannot emphasize how different each and every song on this album is from one another, which is all thanks to Ariel’s amazing ability to transform his voice. He is truly a vocal chameleon.

Ariel Pink has wowed me once again with Dedicated To Bobby Jameson. I cannot wait to finally see him perform a full set (the only other time I ever saw him was at Pitchfork, and his set unfortunately was cut way short because of rain), and cannot imagine how amazing he will be to see in an actual venue on Halloween weekend.

Ariel Pink will be performing at Thalia Hall in Chicago on Saturday, October 28th. If you don’t already have your tickets, I highly recommend you buy some here. He is an outstanding talent, and really delivered on this new album.