The first half or so of pom pom proves Ariel Pink is still a pretty formidable songwriter. On songs like "Plastic Raincoats in the Pig Parade" and "White Freckles," Pink's compositions are frantic and colourful, bouncing from idea to bold idea and lyric to nonsensical lyric without ever crossing the line from stimulating to annoying. It's the details — the ominous descending bass lines on "Four Shadows," the whirling synth-wall choruses of "Not Enough Violence" — that make the well-structured, melodious songs truly pop, and they happily do so up until the end of the '50s rock'n'roll shimmy of "Goth Bomb."
From there, the structure seemingly breaks away, as Pink indulges in further left-field whims that are often more novel than gratifying. "Dinosaur Carebears" reels from drunken psych to carnival theme to gentle groove, but never with the assured hand Pink demonstrates on the album's first half; he tries punk on "Negativ Ed," lullabies on "Sexual Athletics" and straight-up advertising ditties on "Jell-o," all to middling effect. The Beach Boys-esque "Picture Me Gone" redeems things some, but not enough to make the second half a winner, which is a shame — one of these poms is a bona fide stroke of pop genius. (4AD)