Album Review: Ty Segall – Ty Segall (2017)

After 2016’s excellent Emotional Mugger, it’s no surprise that Ty Segall’s (second) self-titled record retreats somewhat from the out of control nature of his former release, perhaps more to the style of his earlier material. But even without comparisons to his back catalogue, Ty Segall is an album that stands firmly on its own two feet.

One of the strengths of Emotional Mugger was that it was relatively short, so that, while Segall’s style didn’t differ hugely from track to track, it didn’t matter since the album packed such a punch. With this new record, it’s a similar situation; it only stands at 37 minutes long, so nearly every track has to leave a lasting effect. Thankfully, this is the case, with Segall seeming to milk all he can from most of the tracks, perhaps not counting the 13 second closer. Not only this, but Segall gives us some varying styles, with elements of Psychedelic music, Glam Rock, Noise Rock and hell, even some elements of Country.

Songs such as ‘Break A Guitar’ and ‘Papers’ showcase Segall as a Marc Bolan like front man, his vocal performance surprisingly clean, exhibiting some pleasant harmonies in some areas and a stripped back performance in others. Looking at Segall’s recent work, it’s a surprise. Still, he takes to this Glam Rock role with ease; it’s almost as if he once made a T-Rex covers record… While the instrumentation is often erratic and freewheeling, it’s controlled chaos, such as on the track ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’. While the track spans over 10 minutes in length, the grooves are pulsating, and dip in dynamics bringing the listener into the fold. While it might seem psychedelic, there’s definite intention and planning, making the song more an experiment than a freak-out.

Elsewhere there are tracks which move even further away from the blueprint half expected. The track ‘Orange Color Queen’ is, near as damnit, an Indie Folk song, where Segall laments about his relationship, through some really quite moving lyrics. It goes to show that, even past the experiments and plastic baby masks, Segall can really write a great love song. Then there’s the track ‘Talkin’’, which tackles broken friendships and monotonous lifestyles through a laid back Country vibe. It’s moments like these that are the real highlights of the album; when Segall opens himself up, past the personas and characters into some emotional depth.

Of course, there are returns to Psychedelica on this record, most notably on the tracks ‘Thank You Mr. K’ and ‘The Only One’, and, while they are still decent songs, feel overshadowed by the sheer quality of the more acoustic cuts. Perhaps it feels a little predictable, but these songs feel like rejects from past releases. Segall can give us a decent hook and riff when it’s needed though, and, particularly ‘Thank You Mr. K’, delves into some indulgent Psyche Rock. While they have that fun, energetic passion to them, they are somewhat underwhelming.

Still, this doesn’t detract from the fact that, on the whole, Ty Segall’s second self-titled album is really very good. While keeping his punchy and to the point attitude, Segall also varies his style and keeps it interesting, while in the progress creating some incredibly honest and wonderful songs.

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