Review Summary: A virtual encompassing of Ariel's stylistic range, Dedicated To Bobby Jameson is an album that comes close to perfection but still makes for one of his best LPs especially for fans of mid-2000s Haunted Graffiti LPs.
When Ariel Pink made the move to Brooklyn independent record label Mexican Summer after his departure from 4AD at the end of his 3 album deal with them some questioned whether Ariel would hit the same highs that he did with pom pom. While this album is definitely not as widely lauded as pom pom was, the move away from the controlling hands of 4AD, at least by whatever control Ariel claimed they had in his interview with Stereogum, has given Ariel mostly free reigns to make pretty much whatever he wants and this album definitely delivers on that. The popularity drop on this album was very clear when I went to a show he did in Toronto last year where the venue had to be changed from a close to 1500 person capacity concert hall he near closely sold out during the pom pom tour to a 500 capacity hole in the wall indie music club. But believe me when I tell you, it was still the best damn show I've been to in years and felt much more quality then his pom pom show and the environment only helped to make the album really shine brighter in my eyes coming straight off the floor of a dusty small dance club on a cold October night.
Dedicated To Bobby Jameson is the 11th studio album by the California singer-songwriter whose come a long way from his days of home recording some of the best lo-fi albums of the mid-2000s in The Doldrums and Worn Copy and this album definitely plays back to the same spirit that made both of those albums memorable. The inspiration for the album is definitely spurred a lot from the L.A. basement club pop scene in the 60s and 70s and this is most visible on the overbearingly synth and reverb heavy opener Time To Meet Your God and the electric organ-led title track which is a re-working of Time Dandelion which was a track Ariel apparently wrote all the way back in 1999. Ariel also pulls more out of the past with the lo-fi basement pop melody I Wanna Be Young which was originally recorded on Oddities and Sodomities Vol. 1 which is wonderfully re-constructed on this album. Feels Like Heaven is a wonderfully beautiful dream pop anthem, Death Patrol is a nice funky bass led jam, Another Weekend is a solid single that plays a bit with the prototypical chillwave dynamic, Time To Live is a massive collage of wackiness paired with a mix of uplifting and depressing lyrical chants and Bubblegum Dreams is a very fun power pop throwback that feels very fresh in Ariel's discography as something that could've fit on the first half of Before Today.
Some of the other tracks on the album, Dreamdate Narcissist, Do Yourself a Favor and Kitchen Witch, are fairly solid deep cuts for the most part although not really the more notable parts of the album outside of the former's reference to "Netflix and chill" which I found hilarious when paired with the blatant "wanting some dick" in the next part of the verse. The tracks Santas In The Closet and Acting unfortunately are the bigger stinkers on this album that feel more like b-sides or simply tracks that should've been cut as they feel less fitting then the rest of the album. Honestly if it wasn't for those two tracks being stinkers and a few average deep cuts padding the albums bright points out this album would get a perfect score from me. It doesn't really do anything out of the ordinary from old Ariel unlike with pom pom but the elements it takes from the classic Haunted Graffiti days is more then welcomed especially with a higher production budget paired with it. Hopefully Ariel uses the newfound freedom he's found at Mexican Summer and continues to make some interesting new material because given his work on the MGMT album Little Dark Age indie pop music needs a tempting devil like Ariel to blow some laid-back fun and insanity into it.