Ariel Pink is not the lo-fi romantic he appears to be

With his new song "Put Your Number In My Phone," Pink's noxious gender politics can no loner be ignored in the context of his fluffy, lovesick music.

- Sep 9, 2014

During an interview with Pitchfork, Ariel Pink decided to take us on another dip into the septic tank of his gender politics. He pegs the recent celebrity nude photo leak sex crime as a nice bit of respite from the menace of ISIS; claims more men are raped in the USA than women (then immediately backtracks); and insists that "When I walk down the street at night, I'm no less vulnerable or scared than a girl."

Whether or not Ariel Pink is scared of getting "Knockout Game'd" is irrelevant, though hilarious. What's most clear is that no matter how he came to the Socratic creed "I don't know anything, I'll be the first to admit it," his haughty waffling is stained with the political whims of a Redditor, yet immunized from them by a decent amount of cred with the right people.

Ariel Pink - Put Your Number In My Phone (Official Audio)

Ariel Pink no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt.

It makes listening to his new single "Put Your Number In My Phone" a strange experience. The narrative follows a lovesick guy who doesn't deliver on his fluffy pop coos, revealed through a hurt voicemail message left at the song's end. In the same interview Pink expresses a disinterest in being in love, calling it "...a fantasy that you shouldn't throw yourself into unless you really know what you're doing."

Could "Phone" have come from a universal fear of committing, of plunging into something hard but perhaps worthwhile? If it is, it's a failure by the artist's own standards: Pink aspires for his music to be the height of rock artifice "I always wanted to get into rock music so I could cover up my real personality, change my voice, and create a false self to hide behind." This doesn't mean "Phone" isn't saying anything, but Ariel Pink no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Tullycraft - Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid

It's now at least just as likely that "Phone" is another example of Pink's "beta male misogyny," explored by Joe Kennedy in The Quietus. "I'm so happy I was bullied when I was younger," Pink says to Pitchfork, "because in hindsight it made me who I am." It seems to have shaped his song, too. "Phone"'s experience of desire seems entirely rooted in getting even at the world's veneration of traditional masculinity, and manipulating women emotionally in order to do it. Or, as Kennedy writes about Tullycraft's "Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend Is Too Stupid To Know About," "Again, it's all about making a woman the intermediary in an exclusively male antagonism, which is in this case also a debate about taste in which the girlfriend is invited to act as adjudicator."

All of Pink's promises - for time alone, that she's the one to "tame [his] Gypsy heart" - are rendered empty by his target's message at the end. Pink's views make it unlikely that it's coming from a fear of the unknown, something we all share and battle with. And that would be a good song.

In his piece Kennedy pulls a quote from Pink's interview with The Wire: "Beta males have got it figured out so that they don't have to chase or rape their prey, so to speak." "Phone" is an ode to Pink's cherished skill either in character or in the world: to conquer women. And for a guy who's said his partner should "stay home and make French fries and have babies," it's just a gentler articulation of a destructive masculine impulse.

Ariel Pink's new album pom pom is out November 18 via 4AD; pre-order it here.

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