Ty Segall is truly a one off. And I mean that most sincerely folks (and in the best possible taste).
If you’d heard just one of his tracks in isolation – say the first single ‘Orange Color Queen’ – you might put him down as a writer of excellent acoustic guitar songs. It’s a love song written for Segall’s girlfriend Denée. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But it’s barely scratching the surface…
…and this is an album with a heck of a lot going on. An entire album of songs in the vein of ‘Orange Color Queen’ might have got tiresome to some listeners. On album opener ‘Break A Guitar’ it sounds like he might just do that, as he brings together the most demented 70s glam rock and prime 90s grunge fused together with what sounds like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. On the album’s centrepiece ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’ there’s stoner rock going on at the same time as krautrock and chilled jazz. The track is ten minutes long but holds the attention of the listener, never losing it or drifting into self-indulgence. It’s symbolic of the album, which is only 36 minutes long; moments are not wasted here.
So many influences and ideas, then. But the fact is that he brings them together and weaves awesome songs as effectively as DJ Shadow ransacking his local record store on …Endtroducing. And then Segall makes a coherent album out of it all, where it all flows together. In lesser hands, an album like this could be a a series of great ideas combining together to make one almighty incoherent mess, an audio chocolate and salmon mousse special. Instead, it connects and it all sounds fresh, rather than being retro. There are those who will tell you that rock has no new directions left to go; Ty Segall casually proves them wrong.
Most impressively, it pulls you in from the first listen, rather than being an album you have to wrestle with to get a handle on. Additionally, not only is it his second self-titled album, but his ninth album since that first self-titled one back in 2008 – and that’s before you consider the myriad of side-projects he’s been involved with.
The only thing that possibly makes it seem harder to get a hold on is our era, where people seem to want to just download a couple of tracks from an album having listened to thirty second streams. This won’t work for this album – but the loss is on those who attempt to listen to music this way. Despite (or perhaps because of) his prolific work rate, Segall is yet to be a household name, still under the heading of ‘cult artist.’ The quality of this album is such that it would be great if this was the album that brought him to the attention of a wider audience. He doesn’t need to compromise what he’s doing – and whatever the general music-listening populace are doing, those of us listening are glad to have him.
Spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag. Ty Segall’s just made a contender for the year best-of lists.