Ty Segall is not a difficult artist to keep track of per say, prolific as he is, however it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep tabs on the many ways he presents himself. Between solo albums, side projects, the Ty Segall Band and last year’s outfit The Emotional Muggers, his incarnations are many and varied. Since his glam rock opus Manipulator came out in 2014, Segall has been involved with – if not directly responsible for – no less than 8 releases. 2017’s first release from the garage rock torch bearer is a self titled one, the second of his career, and seems an attempt to strip away the pomp and glam of Manipulator and the sketchy, indulgent weirdness of Emotional Muggers.
Segall has cemented his band to a degree as well, retaining Muggers’ and frequent collaborators Mikal Cronin and Charlie Moothart as well as The Cairo Gang’s Emmett Kelly (also appeared on ‘muggers’) and Ben Boye (piano) to form a band which he claims will be “the band for the indefinite future”. It is with this band that he recorded ‘Ty Segall’ live in studio – something we haven’t heard on a Ty Segall solo album thus far. This means doing away with the studio trickery and overdubs in lieu of good old fashioned rock n roll, five guys jamming their way through a veritable history lesson in the genre.
Bursting into the opener ‘Break A Guitar’ – it’s all huge fuzz and solos, a la Slaughterhouse. It’s a welcome and familiar sound and something Segall does extremely well. Following this up with catchy garage rocker ‘Freedom’, “Ty Segall” sounds immediately urgent and refreshed, as if we have just walked in on him and the band right in their element. Freedom’s epilogue, ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’, is a jammy psych marathon, over 10 minutes of quiet/loud guitar soloing satisfaction and it sounds like an instant live classic.
Then, as he has tendency to do, he brings us down a notch and to a different world completely. ‘Talkin’ is an acoustic swayer, taking us on a ride through Big Star Americana territory. ‘One’ is Segall and company giving us their best Sabbath impersonation while ‘Orange Colour Queen’ dives into new territory for the singer. A tender folk-pop ballad written for his girlfriend, it’s a nod towards a direction Segall himself cautioned can sound disingenuous. He manages though, to come across as sincere, and in fact it is in the mellow acoustic stylings where we can really grasp the depth of great songwriting he seems to flaunt with ease.
‘Ty Segall’ almost plays like a greatest hits of everything the man does well, from acoustic psych-folk, to all out guitar assaults. It also feels like a rock history lesson, taking us from Sabbath to the Byrds, from John Lennon to Iggy Pop. Indeed, Segall wears his influences on his sleeves, but he always manages to sound fresh and relevant and completely himself. While he may not be rewriting the rules of Rock and Roll, he might be turning himself into the artist most responsible for upholding them.
review by Matthew Poole