Available on: Paw Tracks LP/reissue
For the longest time, the party line on Ariel Pink was “imagine if he honed in all the weird shit, and made a real pop album. It’ll be the greatest thing ever.”
Well, guess what, last year he did that and it still wasn’t a patch on The Doldrums. Recorded in 1999, given its first full release in 2004 through Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label, and then reissued this month on vinyl, The Doldrums was Pink’s masterpiece then, and it’s still his masterpiece now; yes, there’s weird shit (though the ratio of songs to Ariel muttering nonsense is a far better one than on say, 2005’s House Arrest), but pretty much every track here is, in some way, even if it’s just for that one inspired second, a classic.
The Doldrums is the sound of isolation in the city, a full-on, sloppy embrace of the madness that A Normal Life and A Normal Job should drive you to in your spare time, except it doesn’t because you don’t have the balls to beat-box your own drums and multi-layer your own amateur guitar playing for an accompaniment. ‘For Kate I Wait’ isn’t about some noble knight waiting for his lady to return, it’s someone too downtrodden to do anything but sit around and wait for their life to change, and that change never comes. The album’s title track is the sound of your brain leaving your body and smearing itself against the wall while the rest of you watches TV.
Over a decade on from its birth, listening to this record, it’s easy to wonder if there’s ever been an album this eccentric with as much yearning and resignation; an album so ridiculous with as much inherent tragedy. And, of course, there definitely has been – but it’s so hard to think of anything else when you’re this far down. With the image of your email/Twitter/Facebook homepage irreparably burned into your brain, The Doldrums feels more poignant than ever. Look around you. You’re in it already.