Ty Segall by Ty SegallRelease date: January 27, 2017
Label: Drag City
With a release rate to test the most ardent of fans, Ty Segall’s new album may well be greeted with exhaustive indifference but it is somewhat surprising to note how fresh and exciting this release actually is. Blending the acoustic sounds of Sleeper with the 60’s psych of Goodbye Bread, Segall dispenses with the more ramshackle sounds of recent releases for what is an excellent return to form.
Not that form ever really abandoned him, with the only criticism you could throw at him in recent times is his inclination to release tracks which seem to just clatter by rather than grip you. Here, Segall remembers to write some songs in the real sense and it comes across as a resolute triumph. This triumph is tempered by the wonderfully quiet way in which he achieves this and whilst at first this album may seem slight, it’s in the tenderness of delivery that it shines.
There is also room for some wig out moments too and here, amongst the 60’s haze, they sound especially potent. The run-out of ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’ pulls you into its psychedelic tumble allowing your mind to meander along its path. These moments don’t out-stay their welcome though, and the taut brevity which sums up this album keeps things in check.
Maybe that album of Marc Bolan/T-Rex covers had some impact too as opener ‘Break A Guitar’ channels a fantastic glam riff alongside some gloriously anthemic lyrics about his guitar. Elsewhere, that spirit of 70’s glam is revisited through a haze of Hunky Dory era Bowie which gives this album an unusual quality, almost like a time capsule. The handclaps on ‘Freedom’ bringing to mind the kookiness of ‘Kooks’, the ambling acoustic of ‘Talkin” bringing to mind the more reflective moments.
For all his panderings a retro nostalgia, Segall remains very much of the now and whilst he is steeped in rock and roll classicism, his incessant urge to create and recreate pushes through. By re-inventing what garage rock can mean in this new era of music, he breaks down the boundaries of genre by moving swiftly from acoustic balladry to full on Sabbath influenced rock, all the while retaining that DIY quality. His eclecticism matching the new underground creativity that has emerged since the decline of the music industry.
Of course, Segall has been at this game for a long time now and that shows in the quality of the music. The squalling ‘Thank You Mr K’, almost a reinvention of hair metal and pop punk gives way the introspective ‘Orange Color Queen’, both different sounding songs which burrow right to the heart of an American dream that is just out of grasp. That sepia tinged nostalgia burnt by a 21st century cynicism. It’s this cynicism which drives much of Segall’s music whether it be his full on freak outs, his calamitous garage rock, his sweet psych or his bared balladry. On this album he encompasses it all in one brief blast.
It’s interesting to listen to this album next to Manipulator, his recent double album. Both share a lot in common yet manage to get their message across in different ways. Manipulator showed a man unafraid of experimentation, here we get a man with a pop heart. Maybe time will show them to be bookends of s much bigger picture. For the time being, as we listen to ‘Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)’ we can live in the moment and listen to what may be Segall’s best album yet.