Los Angeles's prodigal songwriting son Ariel Pink offers up his eleventh studio effort, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson. The album's title makes a direct and heartfelt reference to a real-life L.A. musician, long presumed dead, who resurfaced online in 2007 after 35 reclusive years to pen his autobiography and tragic life story in a series of blogs and YouTube tirades. "His book and life resonated with me to such a degree," Pink states, "that I felt a need to dedicate my latest record to him."
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson begins at the end and ends at the beginning. "We follow the protagonist through a battery of tests and milestones, the first of which sees him reborn into life out of death," Pink explains, referencing the opening track "Time To Meet Your God." "From there, he seesaws his way between the innocent love and the rock-solid edifice of childhood-worn trauma that together constitute his lifelong initiation into the realm of artifice and theatrical disposability."
Building upon his singular vision of pop songcraft, established by such seminal records as The Doldrums, Worn Copy, House Arrest, Loverboy, Before Today, Mature Themes, and Pom Pom, Pink revisits themes that have haunted his sonic cinemascapes since the late 1990s: mismanaged dreams, west coast mythologies, itinerant criminals, haunted boulevards, Hollywood legends, the impermanence of romance, bubblegum artifice, movie stardom, childhood terror, acceptance of self, and narcissism projected through a celluloid filter of controversion.
Standout tracks here include "Feels Like Heaven," a lovelorn insta-classic paying tribute to the promise of romance, "Another Weekend," which encapsulates the lingering euphoria of a regrettable weekend over the edge, "Dedicated to Bobby Jameson," a rah-rah psych romp paying homage to L.A.'s punk history, and "Time to Live," an ironic anti-suicide anthem that promotes survival as a form of resistance before devolving into a grungy, "Video Killed the Radio Star"-style breakdown that supposes life and death as being more or less the same fate and embraces the immortal anarchy of a rock song as an alternative to the prison of reality.
Alternately contained and sprawling, Dedicated to Bobby Jameson is a shimmering pop odyssey that represents more astonishing peaks and menacing valleys in the career of a man who, through sheer originality and nerve, has become an American rock and roll institution.