Ariel Pink has never been one to limit himself conceptually. Anything is fair game, whether it's a lyric that toys with the absurd, a frivolous twist of instrumentation, or imagery that creeps along the border of graphically inappropriate. While the overlying identity of his previous effort, Before Today, was cohesive and unified, his new one is a right-brained grab bag, pulling concepts from every weird crevice of his mind. Mature Themes has limited pop appeal, but its whimsical qualities makes it one of this year's most compelling listens. The single "Only In My Dreams" has Buffalo Springfield-like simplicity while, on the other end, "Farewell American Primitive" dazzles with an orchestrated and layered chunk of new wave. At times, the LP's over-caffeination creates an anxiety trap (the dizzying repetition of "step into my timewarp" is a doozy). But it always seems to find resolution. Whether in the spacy and resonant "Nostradamus & Me" or the stoned take of Donnie and Joe Emerson's "Baby," Mature Themes is paced with brilliance. Ariel Pink may be a wackjob to some and a genius to others, but there is no denying that his creativity is on another level. This album is more than enough proof.