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Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

Worn Copy (Paw Tracks)

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Like Travis Bickle muttering about scum in Taxi Driver, this talented one-man band actually belongs to the L.A. "Creepshow" that he scorns here on his second Paw Tracks album. Having recorded some 200-300 master tapes on bad equipment in his bedroom over nine years, Ariel Pink somehow caught the attention of his fellow innocents in Animal Collective, who last year released The Doldrums on their own label. Featuring forays into psychedelic noise, chintzy keyboard effects, off-key singing, childishly quirky lyrics, and catchy imitations of pop styles from the '60s to the '80s, it was hailed as the second coming of Bee Thousand from Spin to the U.K.'s Uncut.

If you recall, the media also honored Bickle for his psychotic episode. A repeat performance would have ruined the effect, however, and Worn Copy pushes its luck by opening with a 10-minute psychedelic opera about the battle between heaven and hell. Elsewhere, Pink's uncanny imitative knack remains intact, as in the Nuggets-era exactitude of "Artifact." But only two of the 17 numbers are fully realized songs: the lovely neo-soul ballad "Crybaby" and the simple jazz-funk exercise "Life in L.A."

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