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Writing in another publication five and a half years ago, I described Ariel Pink’s The Doldrums as “a psychfolk-inflected shimmy through classic FM.” Yeah, he’s still doing that. But in 2010 there are some key differences: To start, he’s no longer an acid-casualty outlier of freak folk (whatever that meant). His nostalgia-as-tape-hiss outsider pop can now be heard as a huge influence on bands like Neon Indian and Memory Tapes, who are loosely grouped under the glo-fi subgenre (whatever that means). The other innovation: Pink has learned to write a great pop song, and not just what sounds like the ghost of one. Take the recent single “Round and Round.” Its chorus has hopeful lyrics and mournful harmonies, and if it leaves you unaffected, your ear for indie rock is entirely too jaded.
ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI PERFORMS WITH TRANSMIT NOW, 3 PILL MORNING, AND LEGEND OF THE FALL AT 7 P.M. AT ROCK & ROLL HOTEL, 1353 H ST. NE. $12. (202) 388-ROCK.