Ty Segall is the ninth album Ty Segall has released under his own name – ten if we add in Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse, but then we’re opening the door to all sorts of other releases. If we were to try to number every album, EP, compilation, or live album for every band in which Ty is featured, the count would get quickly out of hand. Suffice it to say that he releases a lot of albums, and this one comes almost exactly a year after his last album, Emotional Mugger. It’s easy to get lost in the extensive catalogue the young man has put together, and you'd be forgiven for not being a Segall completist. But, when he decides to self-title his new album, as he did on his debut back in 2008, you know that this is one you should sit up and pay attention to. In his laid-back, California surfer style he’s saying “hey, this is one you should check out.”
This charming, demeanour is at play throughout Ty Segall, with a slightly unhinged edge. In the opening track, ‘Break A Guitar’, he’s demanding violent actions, but the Beatles-y rhymes and melodies make it seem appealing: “Baby gonna break a guitar / gonna make it a real big star.” Ty is all smiles up front, but his shredding guitar squall coming up behind shines like a fire in his eyes; it’s a masterful combination that’ll have you surreptitiously induced into drastic action by the ending wail: “I was made in the rain!” This is the heaviest Ty has started an album since Slaughterhouse, and there are certainly some more of the rowdiest tracks Ty and his gang of usual suspects (Emmett Kelly, Mikal Cronin, Charles Moothart and Ben Boye) have ever concocted to be found here. ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’ spends its opening minutes sliding uneasily back and forth along a wobbling hacksaw edge between seasick rock and scorching whirlwind guitars; equal parts menacing and intoxicating. Ty then leads his band right down the rabbit hole for a good few minutes in an amorphous jazz-rock, feedback-led breakdown. Here you can picture Ty the conductor, really egging on his band and their deft interplay – before bringing the whole gang crashing back in a landslide of pent up euphoria.
What sets Ty Segall apart from Slaughterhouse – and most of his albums – is the well-measured balance between the heavy Ty and the more melodious Ty. He moves back and forth throughout, but easily maintains unison under his idiosyncratic character; and the album is crafted to ebb and flow. After the 10+ minute ‘Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)’, he gives us a brilliant breather in the form bar-rock classic ‘Talkin’’. Replete with broad acoustic guitar strums, loping piano and bass, harmonies and folksy lyrics (“I heard you talkin’ about Molly Joe / about how she just wants her weight in gold”), it’s a blissfully simple unwind from the screw turning in the helter-skelter opening trio of tracks.
He then once again ratchets up the volume for the mid-section of the album. ‘The Only One’ writhes and jerks with the grace of a python in a sack, guitars flying in all directions. While the band capably maintains the lumpy gait, Ty surfs the undulating beast with a lopsided guitar solo that morphs into an almighty full-blooded crescendo. ‘Thank You Mr. K’ chugs with the power of a hopped-up warthog with deft footing that winds in and out of bushes and branches; it’s a mad cap adventure that's topped by Ty screaming that we’re “taking Mr. K for a ride.” Then, the song suddenly stops for a breather, only for flowerpots to rain down from the sky and the rollercoaster to kick back into life more chaotically than ever.
Ty once again anticipates the listener’s need for a breather at this point, and inserts ‘Orange Color Queen’. Another acoustic guitar excursion, and this time Ty captures one of his most instantaneously catchy and sweet songs ever: “I just want to call you here and grin / feel the warmth of your skin / oh you’re my orange colored lady.” Again the Beatles’ influence is apparent, both in the warm, open pop melodies and in the psychedelic lyrics (“oh you’re a tree inside an airplane”). He maintains this aloof unhinged persona into the next track, ‘Papers’. Just as McCartney was "fixing a hole where the rain gets in," Ty’s announces “my papers need tape, I stuck them to the wall / yes, the papers depend on tape so they do not fall.” Segall proves here that he knows, just as McCartney knew, that as long as you’ve got a killer melody and committed, talented performers willing to interpret the mood, any incidental thought can be turned into something joyous.
Ty caps off the album in a signature manner, capturing the lovable, poetic side of his nature, with just a hint of the macabre lurking behind. ‘Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)’ is another jaunty acoustic song that finds Ty lamenting “take care to brush your long hair / when you can’t brush it any longer, it might just disappear.” The song unfolds into a delightful treatise on appreciating things while you have them and making the most of now. This is certainly what Segall has been doing his whole music career, and that’s why it’s always a pleasure to hear his next album, no matter how quickly it comes around.