For a guy who’s not yet thirty, Ty Segall’s discography is already a long and winding road. After releasing nine studio LPs in as many years under his own name, in addition to singles collections, live albums, EPs, 7”s, not to mention his myriad work with other bands, you wonder when Segall has time to write songs, tour, and sleep. His latest album, his second self-titled affair, finds Ty and his pals (regulars Mikal Cronin, Charles Moothart and others) returning to a much rawer sound with the assistance of legendary producer Steve Albini.
The new album starts strong with “Break A Guitar”, a track that has Ty and his colleagues crashing in with a dooming, thunderous lead riff and blazing solos. It’s followed by the short, spunky “Freedom”. The new record’s obvious standout moment arrives next in the form of the ten-minute-plus (roughly one third of the album’s total running time) epic “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)”. The song starts as a pastiche of melodies, drawing from Segall’s strengths, including psychedelic solos, face-melting riffs, and glam and metal vocal stylings before it falls into a jazzy groove at the five-minute mark. “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)” remains in jazz mode for the next three minutes, at times recalling moments from Miles Davis’ fusion masterpiece Bitches Brew, with Segall’s light, intermittent guitar touches mimicking Davis’ trumpet in terms of involvement.
The only other track that recaptures the energy of the album’s opener is the pounding, pulsing “The Only One”. As with most Segall releases, milder, pop-friendly tracks manifest. The first of these arrives on the album’s A side as the woozy, lackadaisical “Talkin’”. The charming, acoustic “Orange Color Queen” provides an opportunity for Segall to harmonize vocally and the results are quite lovely. Similarly, both the 60s-inspired “Papers” and the record’s sunny closer “Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)” put Segall’s voice and guitar in a warmer, friendlier spotlight.
Uninitiated guitar rock fanatics discovering Ty Segall for the first time via this record are to be envied. While this album is far from Segall’s best work, it’s good enough that the aforementioned newbies who find themselves backtracking over Segall’s past few studio releases after hearing it will experience a progression in terms of quality in both songwriting and production. Although Ty Segall’s 2017 self-titled release may be looked back upon as a haphazard collection, released more as a means of documenting his work with Albini, in the present it represents a clever way of reintroducing Ty Segall to the world.