Track Review: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Baby”

[4AD; 2012]

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti are a prolific group: started as a one-man project as Ariel Pink and, as of 2010’s Before Today, recording as an entire band, a steady stream of releases have been distributed since the early 2000s. While some may have felt that the group adopted a more accessible sound with their latest album, Before Today was the record that got many into the group’s music, and with good reason: it was an exciting and exhilarating record, delving into the history of rock and roll in a way that the band hadn’t previously done to such an extent.

Now it’s 2012, and the follow-up, Mature Themes, is on the way August 21st. The lead single, “Baby,” is a chilled cover of a 1979 track by Donnie and Joe Emerson, and really pinpoints Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s appreciation of the past. Ariel’s version of the track is very similar to the original, which is always good for a cover; while they don’t fiddle around with the track in any major ways, what they do succeed in doing is crafting an accomplished tribute to a group who clearly influenced them.

Ariel’s vocals work perfectly with this sort of music, and what we hear with “Baby” is a very cool and collected track with a soulful delivery. And, of course, the production quality is superior to the original, as reflected in the clarity of the guitars, the percussion and the backing vocal chants. As a cover, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ariel’s version is a remaster of the original; such is the extent in which they sound alike. After listening to both, it’s not difficult to prefer Ariel’s version, which is the sign of a truly special cover.