Coyly peeking out under lo-fi hiss and haze, Stranded at Two Harbors is a crackling collection of shambolic pop. Over this collaboration between Matt Fishbeck of the Push Kings and Ariel Pink of his own odd namesake, Pink’s aesthetic emerges most prominently. His penchant for warped recordings and jerky quirks defines the album, making for a mixed listen as frustrating as it is fun. Giddy pleasures sprout up all over, from the sunny psychedelic shimmer of “My Whole Life Story” to the nervy new romantic rush of “Tokyo Gamblers”. While certain songs could have been trimmed to increase impact, but editing has never before been an asset attributed to Pink. His customary disdain for accepted production standards is evident as well, with songs sounding so tossed-off they suggest some taboo about second takes. The inherent tension in good songs going on too long and being willfully buried beneath static might merely be a matter of apathy or arrogance, but it also frames a debate over whether pop music is just a disposable commodity not worthy of precision, or a joy so ephemerally splendid that there’s no time for polish. Either way Holy Shit prove as endearingly sophomoric as their name.
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