Third Ty Segall album brings back garage rock

Ty Segall is a frighteningly persistent, prolific garage rock persona who just released his third album of the year. Despite the little time he had to compose this record, having been touring with his band and Thee Oh Sees, he has managed to put together possibly one of his most dynamic records yet. Many of us may long for the good old days, when rock was at its peak, life was good, and The Velvet Underground was America’s unsung, subterranean musical heroes. About 40 years later, garage rock is making a comeback, and Ty might be the leader of this pivotal resurrection.

It doesn’t take long for you to realize how righteously fuzzed-out this album is. The first track, “Thank God For Sinners,” conveys an epic, yet brief rock ballad to introduce this overdriven, spastic record. With openers like “Finger” and “Goodbye Bread” on his previous records, in comparison this song does what it should well – provide a foundation for the remainder of the album and set a good example. This track is something your hippie grandparents might consider for a few seconds before they tell you to leave their phonograph alone, as you have now stripped it of its previous reputation and nullified the usage of older, “purer” LPs. Those of you who loved Ty’s recent release with the Ty Segall Band should feel right at home with this song, as it is almost identical to what you would expect to hear on Slaughterhouse.

“You’re The Doctor” is a frantic, jittery, gleefully distorted track that sounds similar to Ty’s 2009 work on Melted, but much more evolved. Rather than just playing a few chords, hitting some cardboard boxes, and howling, it appears that Ty Segall has adopted more polished performing and recording techniques, adding additional clarity and guitar-wizardry, in lieu of his live performances. This is what some hipsters with an excessive amount of time on their hands might refer to as “post-punk.” This song still utilizes howling, accompanied by minimalistic vocals and chord structure, but the clarity is nearly unheard of in a Ty Segall record. This transitioning away from lo-fi makes the record much more accessible, however some fans might feel alienated by the intrusive abundance of guitar soloing, and lack of “dirt” (muddiness and lack of clarity) so to speak.

“Inside Your Heart” is a song about parasites, tumors or possibly another song about Segall’s lack of comfort concerning his body and yet another trip to the doctor that is likely growing tired of his visits concerning his mental and cardiovascular health. This song might also be the metaphorical product of The Beatles getting into a bar fight with Black Sabbath. Unlikely? Yes. However, this song manages to pull together all of these unusual elements with ease and efficiency. It’s fairly slow-paced, and not an easy-listener, but not much more than a bump in the road, as the previous song might have exceeded the speed limit.

“The Hill” opens with glistening vocals from Brigid Dawson of Thee Oh Sees, before being abruptly converged upon by blistering guitar chords and Ty’s first verse. It’s practically a Californian garage rock fan’s lucid dream. While I was initially skeptical about the incorporation of strong female vocals in a Ty Segall song, it only took about 30 seconds for me to begin vigorously head-banging. To formulate a musical comparison with another artist for this song would be like comparing dinosaurs to laser guns. They are both undeniably awesome, but comparing them would be irrelevant and weird. Maybe if Sonic Youth… nope, can’t do it. It’s not surprising that “The Hill” was originally released as a single in preparation for Twins. It’s the perfect culmination of potential skepticism, suspense and awe. This is how you utilize marketing skills in the music industry like a boss.

“Will You Be My Love” harkens back to simpler times and with its clichéd, poppy hooks and simplistic archetype. It’s 2 minutes and 15 seconds of indulgent pop-punk nonsense.

“Ghost” is this album’s slow-dance. It’s not breathing fire or offending the mass public, it’s just making a simple statement. It’s just as overdriven or abraded as any other song in his catalogue, but it’s not sad, mad or snarling. It’s angst-y, but not as grizzly as you’d expect.

“They Told Me Too” starts up like a typical punk song, with minor distorted power chords, but becomes much more interesting, with its rather creepy lingering, high-pitched vocals and heavy, corrosive guitar parts, accompanied by its overall foaming-at-the-mouth attitude. It’s more violent and dark than a typical modern garage rock hit, and might have just been studio filler material, but with all of the songs on this album being well under the five minute mark, it’s hard to consider any of it filler material. This song is just oddly placed in the album, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Love Fuzz” as the track title of the 8th song could not be more apt, as these two elements perfectly describe the song. I would try for a description, but it appears that my work has already been done for me.

“Handglams” opens up slowly, with jangly, articulated chords, phantom-like whispering, and a driving bass-line. It gets distorted and agitated, and a bit melancholic, before the song eventually reaches its climax and becomes triumphant. This song swiftly ends with a cliffhanger, and fades out with an analog delay pedal put abruptly in reverse, mercilessly dragging the song through a vacuum. Thee Oh Sees fans that find themselves infatuated with weird effect quirks and odd noise implementation are sure to feel a sense of familiarity.

“Who Are You” is a rabidly percussive tango. It’s one of the most refreshingly “retrotastic” songs I’ve heard in quite a while. It might actually be Ty’s only song thus far to use maracas. It’s that song that will probably end up on your girlfriend’s playlist somehow, and (if all hope is lost) a Target commercial. So far, the only other form of media to use a Ty Segall song was the film 21 Jump Street. We can only hope that this wonderful two minute long jam session doesn’t end up on some cheesy commercial. Luckily, Target is still yet to fit in with the “hip” crowd.

“Gold On The Shore” is perplexingly acoustic. I know what you’re thinking. “A cheap gimmick?” (As Ty isn’t particularly known for his acoustic songs) Nay. While it is certainly repetitive, and not exactly “Shakespearianly” worded, it brings an entirely new element to Segall’s musical repertoire. This is an artist at the height of his career with a mature, unheard level of introspection, even though he is trying a bit hard to sound Led Zeppelin-y. Don’t expect it to be played by Ty’s live band anytime soon, though. A Ty Segall Band Unplugged session doesn’t seem very likely at the moment, unless they become rearranged once again as the Mikal Cronin band on his next tour.

If you have listened to any previous records by Ty Segall, you’re probably already familiar with his epic, typically extended final songs. In retrospect, his newest final touch upon his most recent collection of compilations doesn’t exactly follow previous trends. “There Is No Tomorrow” is a wistful, Beatles-esque song, that does an extremely good job of providing denouement to another “modern masterpiece” of a Segall record. In the past, Ty Segall has generally always saved the love song for the final track. This is no exception to that rule, but many other tracks on this album fit the same category.

In the past few months, Segall has gained major publicity and new critical acclaim, with his appearances on television and even a five-page cover story with Spin magazine. An underground rock hero is finally taking his first steps into the light of mainstream media. Three years and five full-length one-man-band albums after his debut, Ty Segall is making the world his oyster, and capturing the attention of old-school rock nerds everywhere. This could definitely be his post-breakthrough breakthrough album. It’s not an album that will result in a massive gain in popularity, but one written whilst dealing with its composer’s first taste of fame and independent financial stability. The Velvet Underground, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Pavement,Dinosaur Jr., and other major garage rock bands didn’t gain major attention until the latter points in their respective careers (and in Nirvana’s case, a despairing, unfortunate, posthumous disbanding), but at this rate Ty Segall is likely to gain major media success quite soon. Without a devoted fan base, and cool media publicists (IE: Pitchfork), Segall may have never gained such attention or money, and this album might have never been, but I’m glad that it exists as both a great record, and a reminder of this major transition in Segall’s life. But seriously, no fourth album set to release this year? What a slacker.