Only in My Dreams – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Ariel Pink is in the business of refurbishing nostalgia. He takes what is familiar and applies a subtle and complicated modern sheen. On the surface, “Only In My Dreams,” janglin’ guitar and easy harmony sounds like a Byrds rip off. That 12-string riff just has to be stolen, you think as you fumble to come up with the song title. It’s too immediately recognizable and comfortable to be a new song. More than that, the guitar, drums, and wordless choir sound much too old. But then, how about that synthesizer? Or key shift? Surely, the Byrds or 10cc or Hollies or whoever didn’t do something like that. Pink’s shrewd musicianship hides beneath the surface, supporting, preserving, and improving the original model.
Like the transparent, chemically intricate coats of paint on antique cars, Pink’s key shift and bubbling synth enhance without distracting from the perfection of the influences behind the song. Instead, Pink’s touches smooth out the dents and make it shine. His composition is so impeccable that the Byrds-style riff sounds not only new and improved but also alien. Ariel Pink reinvents what’s already known. “Only In My Dreams” is instantly identifiable but completely new.