Californian fuzz luminary Ty Segall reprises his musical vision and candid coming-of-age on his second self-titled LP.
The prolific songwriter’s ninth studio album adds to an impressive catalogue of material that has also included multiple EPs and albums from his bands such as Fuzz, Broken Bat, Sic Alps and collaborations with White Fence.
This album offers a fresh tasting plate of all the divergent strains of music styles Segall has crafted over his career to date. He brings the dreamy acoustic musings of Sleeper, the glitter-laced craftsmanship of Manipulator and psych-punk sizzle of last year’s Emotional Mugger together into a succinct and captivating release.
Segall is an infamous touring machine and has bought his live band from 2016 along for the ride in this recording. “The Muggers”, as they have come to be known, consist of longtime collaborators: bassist Mikal Cronin, guitarist Emmett Kelly, drummer Charles Moothart and pianist Ben Boye. Segall also bought in legendary producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies) for the album, suggesting a move away from the dogged self-sufficiency that has characterised his work so far.
Ty Segall (#2) kicks off with the heavy riff of Break a Guitar, tipping the hat to Black Sabbath’s recently retired Tony Iommi and co. from the offset. The sound will be satisfying and familiar to most Segall fans as he breezes through the opening tracks with energy and poise. Segall’s catchy vocal melodies are like an undersized owner trying to keep an unruly fuzz-hound on a leash. Songs whip about all over the place, darting through barnstorming Stooges riffs to sparse anarchic musings. Warm Hands (Freedom Returned) lays the entire spectrum out on the tarmac running for over ten purist-breaking minutes. It’s enough to surmise a fistful of identity crises with electric piano creeping onto the palette amidst the scuzzy feedback and dual guitars trying to out-noodle each other.
Coming in as only the third track, it casts a long shadow over the rest of the album, but Segall effectively contrasts it with more intimate moments to colour his broad musical and emotional canvas. Despite his brilliant live performances and his ability to shred a Stratocaster to confetti, his enchanting songwriting has always been the guiding light through the haze of fuzz and jubilant excess. First single Orange Colour Queen is a testament to his enduring ability bring things back down to the dirty earth and revisit those grass roots. It’s one of the album’s finest tracks and leaves you wondering just what music Segall could be capable of if he learned to sit still for a little longer.
The lead single is followed by Papers, a bouncy lo-fi addition with piano lines and prosaic introversion that hark back to some past life spent playing board games in Syd Barrett’s basement on seventies medication. Take Care (To Comb Your Hair) layers his charming faux-British vocals over clean guitar rhythms until the inevitable outburst of jagged riffs and drum hooks. It probably exemplifies Albini’s soft-loud dynamic as good as any on the album before it closes irreverently with a single chord and 11 seconds on Untitled.
There is an innate strain of immediacy flowing through this album. It has been one of Segall’s most endearing qualities that has propelled his career to the forefront of current garage rock auteurs. He has never let vices like perfectionism stall the breakneck pace at which he churns through the album-tour-album-tour rinse cycle.
Although Segall doesn’t bring many new ideas to the table, he draws from a wider and deeper range of styles and influences than on previous albums and manages to stitch them together into a warm and colourful release. It’s difficult to see how Steve Albini’s production role influenced this album much as you could easily assume the whole recording was done (albeit brilliantly) off the cuff. Nevertheless, Ty Segall #2 is a welcome revision of a winning formula for the fans and an expansive exhibit of his weaponry for those who are experiencing his music for the first time.