Underground poster boy, Ty Segall, released his newest album last Friday simply titled, Ty Segall, and it’s already my favorite album of the year to date. As fans of the garage-rocker may know, this isn’t his first self-titled. In 2008, Segall released his sophomore LP under the same name. However, the newest album in his catalogue is so much more different from that release nine years ago.
For starters, to fully understand the mature song writing style Ty Segall has grown into, one has to look at the entire body of work he is responsible for. Up until the album Sleeper and self-titled release from side project, FUZZ, not many people understood the versatility of Ty or what he was capable of. This versatility can best be summed up on his 2016 album, Emotional Mugger, that featured a garage rock super-group playing DEVO-esque numbers.
Gaining notoriety through punk scenes can be both a great thing and a dangerous thing for artists like Ty Segall. On one hand, punks are helpful in supporting bands that they like whether it be booking, recording, or providing artwork. On the other hand, artists that want to explore other paths sometimes feel they owe their sound to the punks or else the punks will turn on them. What these musicians don’t realize is that all fans want is that their favorite bands put out something genuine. This is where Segall succeeds with on new LP. it’s not the garage rock he’s become synonymous with but it’s genuine and one hundred percent a Ty Segall album. That’s how he’s kept people listening for a decade.
Ty Segall opens with the most straightforward song written in years, Break a Guitar. The first time I heard this track was a day after the album’s release during a visit to my local vinyl distributor with Hell of a Thing co-contributor, Kirk Yoshonis. The shop, Flat Black and Circular in East Lansing, is known for playing deep cuts and not material widely known. At first, I thought that it was an old b-side from Pentagram coming through the speakers. When the lyrics “baby gonna break a guitar, gonna make it a real big star” blast through the wall of guitars, it’s obvious whose album it is. Even the reserved listener cannot resist banging their head against the stereo for this track. The main riff brings on visions of denim-clad burnouts; reliant on crummy motorcycles as their only mode of transportation.
Following Freedom, the third track on the LP, Warm Hands (Freedom Returned), shows a jam-band influenced side of Ty Segall only observed on FUZZ’s albums prior to this. It is also one of the few songs where a keyboard is at the forefront rather than buried in the mix on some of the last albums. Warm Hands (Freedom Returned) clocks in at ten minutes by the end but holds the audience captive by referencing prog-rock structures rather than layering instruments and obscure pedals to create a psychedelic atmosphere.
The most classic of the singles on this album is Thank You Mr. K, a punk explosion that reminds listeners who they’re dealing with. Ty Segall is still an artist for the genuine weirdos and rockers; this song definitely keeps people anchored to that thought while the rest of the album pushes new boundaries for the songwriter.
Perhaps the most interesting songs on Segall’s self-titled are the ones towards the end that utilize acoustic guitar in a way that makes it cool. In a generation where “Folk Revival” and guys playing unoriginal sing-alongs on college lawns is a thing, Segall demonstrates the power that acoustic instrumentation can muster. It’s this writer’s hope that the first single off the album Orange Color Queen is the next anthem that inspires kids to pick up acoustics. Cosmic love songs are what people need to escape bland ballads that pander to hopeful romantics.
So is Ty Segall the next Bowie, Dylan, or Beck for our generation? Who knows and, for that matter, who cares? Those sort of things are for the next batch of listeners to figure out. What’s obvious is that Ty Segall by Ty Segall solidifies the singer/songwriter as a figurehead for contemporary music by constantly changing his sound for the better but always keeping a foot in his roots.
Click here to hear Break a Guitar
– By Mike Metcalf