Ouch, Baby. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Mature Themes.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's previous LP, Before Today, was irrefutably one of the albums of 2010, an epoch now palpably distant and dusted with the expired detritus of the years past; that of this and last. The times they are a-changin', and swifter than they ever did previously. Blame the internetz or something. However were it not for these intangible domains and virtual doldrums Ariel Rosenberg would, commensurately irrefutably, not represent the left-field luminary he now does. Celebrity doesn't exactly suit such a distrait puck although with the more general mainstream clogged up with the soggy lumber of which Rosenberg largely unintelligibly gurgles on Driftwood, maybe he's needed more than both he and we reckon.

Or rather perhaps he was: Before Today wasn't precisely pinpointed in time. Inspired by the timeless (R. Stevie Moore, Donnie & Joe Emerson's Dreamin' Wild where Baby was first born) it could've been released on any given Monday across the past fifty years or so. Because of this – or so I presume – it has aged impeccably in that it hasn't aged a day since that upon which it first graced ears and iPods outside of the 4AD offices. Mature Themes, conversely, sounds outdated already purely because where its predecessor bundled a whole bunch of retrospective wonderment into forty-five transporting minutes, with bona fide tune after tune unfurled from its twelve tracks this one's lacking in definition and, more importantly, in definitive melody.

Opener Kinki Assassin has Rosenberg ho ho hoing as though enervating gameshow host over dead dull lo-fi blips and pieces. It's immaculately produced, if let down by this roller-coasting instrumental trifle and lewd witticisms of "testicle bombs" and some "sperm-headed brain". It's Rosenberg rubbing us up the wrong way from the off, and behaving like the petulant jerk he oft plays within the live arena. The choppy New Wave stylings of Is This The Best Spot? never hit the proverbial either, despite the puerile syllabics of "G-spot" and comes across as Adam Ant conspiring with I, Ludicrous on a throwback SNES soundtrack nobody wants nor needs. In keeping with Del Rey's loathed videogame vibe is the title track, another flimsy kicker flapping about in a dubious brand of soul.

Thank fuck, therefore, for Only In My Dreams: an oneiric pop swoon to rival Can't Hear My Eyes, whether slapped on "on the beach" or "on the ocean" we ought revel both in the track itself and the fact that it was released from the solitary confinement of Rosenberg's skull. It's evidence that there's still stuff worth listening to going on in there, and deep and reverential praise be in order. This is then to be retracted though, as the bassy cascades of tedium again flush out any idiosyncrasies on Driftwood. Forget drifting; it's dead. And while many of Rosenberg's idols may have passed away, the nagging qualm with Mature Themes is that he's past it. Whatever the motives may be – whether post-Before Today successes have now caught up with him and smothered the majority of his creativity, or whether with this maturing he's outgrown the ludic joys of Worn Copy for instance – the result is a leaden, heavy listen bearing little reward.

Early Birds of Babylon sounds like something Noel Fielding may whack out on his most insipid of afternoons, such is its parodical vapidity; Schnitzel Boogie boils down to more "schizo" groans and a vexatious takeout dialogue concerning amounts of cheese; and Symphony of the Nymph recalls Twin Shadow's Confess were Lewis Jr. into copious sleaze and not cupfuls of grease (capitalisation discretionary). By the lyric: "Dr. Mario: colonoscopist" you sense it may be detrimental to your welfare, your sanity and your safety to continue to indulge in this absurdity any longer as Rosenberg is so far up his own derrière he may be requiring this grubby examiner to practise his insalubrious advances on he himself.

Ethnic wiff-waff frenetics feature on Live It Up, and Pink turns political seer on Farewell American Primitive as he croons one of "North Korea is me" or "North Korea is mean". It's hard to tell, and harder to care by this point before Nostradamus & Me – at 7:25 – really kills us off. In amongst all that dross is the elate Europop of Pink Slime which is gloriously deranged, and Baby breeds mild redemption but holy heck is this one a dud. Is This The Best Spot, then? Absolutely not. Indeed, it's far and away Rosenberg's worst to date.

Jamie Holloway.