by Jamie Nagode
Ty Segall – Ty Segall – 2017 – Drag City Records
A second self-titled album by Ty Segall is heard at a higher fidelity than previous albums, where Ty traditionally records by overdubbing. This album, however, was recorded in a live studio backed with his full band, The Muggers. We still hear noisy and powerful droning layers of melodic and percussive guitar, but less warbly. This album is mostly dictated by dissonant authoritative guitar riffs, syncopated switch-ups, hollow sounding-bassier drums, half-step chord progressions, and tri-tonal vocal harmony with a growling vibrato. His voice is more clear, more involved, and directs the music, along with his guitar, rather than participating from a lower, muddled fidelity, as heard in past albums. The album blends unapologetic rage and disenchantment of the oppressed with a nihilistic warning, to listen and catch up with the philosophies expressed. Songs flow effortlessly from manic recklessness to bluesy 50’s ice cream shop vibes, from peaceful jam-band bliss to a metal psychopathic heartbeat. It’s a little nuts to believe that any of those sounds would flow together, but they do. The album is cacophonous yet very listenable. Go listen to it.
The first song, Break a Guitar, initially came across as a surprise; the sound is so uncharacteristically clear. It plays very strong with several guitars pounding heavy droning accolades into your cells. Segall demonstrates a much higher level of mastery on the guitar throughout this entire album; he broke it like a horse. He also does right to immortalize that proverbial reckless rockstar who trashes all his instruments in the wake of birthing some killer material. At any rate, he rocks it.
Freedom and Warm Hands (Freedom Returned) vocalize that feeling of freedom when you realize who it is you’re actually working for, how they bought you and how they change you. It’s terrifying – and you feel that fear and rage in these songs, predominantly in the guitar. Warm Hands in particular really showcases Segall’s range of talent; he switches up the genres from metal to a jazzy jam sesh to post-rock then back to the garage and it takes you through that story with him. In the end, he brings you back to the freedom feeling; once you requite the oppressor and take back your power, its entirely blissful.
One of the softer songs, Talkin’, is constantly stuck in my head. It rides on those classic slow blues of the ‘fifties, and nods to that era with the names named (Molly Joe, Phillip Jean). It’s gritty and cute at the same time, in the lyrics and the overall sound. This song is so necessary in 2017; it’s gossip-shaming and by those means relevant. Lately we see superficial cheap talk in the media and all around us, and we’re encouraged to do the same in our own circles; but when you slam someone close to you for this or that, you’re really just “talking about yourself”. Words to live by – talk about things and ideas, not people, right?
The Only One and Thank You Mr. K ramp up the energy and bring back the rebel attitude. Powerful guitars and drums act as a percussive living pulse through The Only One and the energy grows to a manic joyride in Thank You Mr. K. It brings back that old surfey metal punk, reintroducing a feeling of reckless abandon with shattering glass and riff after riff ripping the air a new one.
Try hard not to fall in love with Orange Color Queen. Its easily one of the most beautiful songs he’s written, and for that reason takes the blue ribbon on this LP. Written for his girlfriend, Orange Color Queen cruises and grooves with a soft spot for a pillow talk muse. Pretty, right? It starts off slow and then reels you in for a solid 3 minutes well spent. This one rolls into Papers, a ragtime garage rock composition with a cryptic message and catchy chorus anyone can get down to.
He wraps up the album with the last full-length song, Take Care (To Comb Your Hair). A good song to drive to, a good song to leave to, age to, etc. It starts off a little folky and of course ends with the classic fuzzy grunge and growling guitars to send you off. Laters, baby. The last song, Untitled, is an epic start to a four-second song followed by laughter. It’s a perfect tease but hey, that’s Ty Segall. Little punk.