Labe: Drag City
It’s hard to believe it, but it has been over a year since Ty Segall released a full length record under his given name. With the exception of Fuzz (Segall sings and plays drums in the group), he hasn’t appeared on any other albums in the past twelve months. This is a major change of pace for Segall, who up until now had been releasing an average of two to three albums and a seeminly endless amount of singles each year. With Manipulator, Segall takes it slow and comes out on the other end with his best work yet.
During the recording of the album, Segall entered the studio for a month with producer Chris Woodhouse. The time spent there is apparent on each track, albeit in different ways. For some songs, it’s as simple as an extra vocal or guitar overdub, one good example being the glam-indebted “Tall Man Skinny Lady”. It’s as raw as anything else Segall has recorded, but there’s a lot more going on in the background to make it feel a little less like a first take than his earlier albums. Elsewhere, strings and synthesizers join in, an arena that hasn’t often been explored by Segall. The gritty synth on “The Connection Man” sounds borrowed from Damaged Bug’s Hubba Bubba LP. Given that John Dwyer and Segall are friends and have worked together in the past, it could even be Dwyer hiding behind the keys.
Minor changes in production aside, the hooks remain intact. This has never been an issue for Segall, and here they are stronger than ever. He jumps effortlessly to falsetto without straining, but only when the song calls for it. He knows when to dial it back, too. It stands to reason that Segall has spent a lot of his time off listening to an array of music, as each song is solitary. From the Faces-esque “The Clock” to the bent doo-wop of “The Singer”, Segall demonstrates a deep understanding of rock and roll tropes throughout the record.
Manipulator feels like the culmination of Segall’s various genre exercises, but is also the sound of an artist who has managed to take these influences and truly shape them into his own sound. With his long-established fanbase already in check, there’s no question that Manipulator will move him up to the next rung on the ladder.