If ever there was a modern day artist who is willing to take chances, it is surely the ridiculously prolific Californian, Ty Segall.
Of course, with such a production rate, most of his albums are something of a mish-mash, and you generally end up feeling like “this could have been an absolute classic if it had been eleven tracks instead of twenty“, though happily, Freedom’s Goblin is perhaps less guilty of such a trait than previous works.
It may do Segall good, however, to take a crash course in US English versus its American equivalent. Otherwise you end up with tracks like the opener here, called…ahem…’Fanny Dog‘, which is a belting number introduced with almost honky tonk piano, but regardless of how strong the tune, it is practically impossible, as a Brit, not to snigger in juvenile schoolboy fashion when he sings the words “my fanny sticks around.” Google it, my Stateside friends, if you have no idea what the heck I’m going on about.
‘Rain‘ sounds a little like Turin Brakes (as does ‘My Lady’s On Fire‘) performing a song that could have been stolen from Thom Yorke‘s bedside cabinet, and immediately afterwards we encounter feasibly one of the great cover versions of the 21st century, as Hot Chocolate‘s ‘Every 1’s A Winner‘ is tackled in triumphant style, bearing more in common with early White Denim than the soulful pop of its original creators.
‘Despoiler Of Cadaver‘, meanwhile, is an absolute beast of a tune, its assuredly regimented grooves like a hybrid of Hot Chip, Prince and, perhaps most of all, The Dandy Warhols at their scintillating, unrelenting best. That’s just four songs in, and already we’ve faced a myriad of fashion fusions before the full frontal assault of the explosive ‘When Mommy Kills You‘, the crunchiest of guitars perfectly offsetting the ‘more experimantal Beatles‘ feel of its melody.
The only time Freedom’s Goblin runs into any kind of barriers is when Ty rather oddly adopts a kind of faux-Mancunian accent, which renders the odd tune here and there as something akin to an Oasis B-side. Thankfully, this technique is used sparingly, and for the most part, it’s a thoroughly engaging album. Its best moments, interstingly, seem to have beemn developed from a metal aesthetic, certainly in terms of the ‘guitar solo’ work anyway. This is probably most apparent on finale ‘And Goodnight‘, which begins like a classic Neil Young record from the 1970s, but clearly takes its cue, at its most exciting moments, from players like Iron Maiden‘s Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, albeit in more of a smoky jazz-blues stylee. It really is an epic and spectacular way to sign off.
Before that though, we get the entertainingly messed up ‘The Last Waltz‘ (which isn’t a cover of the old Engelbert Humperdinck song, but feels like it could be its scuzzy, drugged up cousin) and the quite magnificent ‘She‘ (likewise, not a version of the old Charles Aznavour chart topper), which is three parts Led Zeppelin and one part T.Rex.
All in all, Freedom’s Goblin is a bit of a corker really, with very little for your humble reviewer to grumble about. It should satisfy fans of classic rock, metal and the discerning alternative connoisseur in equal measure.
Freedom’s Goblin is out now through NPR Music.