For nearly 10 years now, Ty Segall has been churning out hot-buttered garage-punk, beginning with his days in both the OC/San Fran scenes, where he befriended John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees, who in turn put out the Laguna Beach native’s debut (self-titled) album in 2008. Back with another eponymous record, Segall manages to blend together all the colors of his gloriously scuzzy rainbow: Marc Bolan-influenced shredding and dopey, troubadour, blacklight wizardry. A greatest hits package featuring brand new material. Sell that, Time Life!
Opening with a riff that would make Ritchie Blackmore proud, “Break a Guitar” relies on the tired and true belief that a choice couplet can carry a band to the chorus (or at least through a bong rip) — “Baby gonna break a guitar/gonna make it a real big star.” Good enough for me. “Freedom” scuttles around with a frantic, stripped down acoustic vibe before ascending to Lennon-y heights.
It takes real balls to place your 10-minute jam at the top of the track list (I haven’t even made a dent in my dandelion wine!), but that’s where we find “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned).” It’s a trip (and I do mean trip) through all of Monsieur Segall’s predilections: the shimmering glam of T-Rex, the sludge of Tony Iommi, the cocksureness of Exile-era Stones — all wrapped up in an oriental rug and smuggled away from the cops.
The key track “Talkin'” chugs along with an American Beauty-era Dead feel. Like all great noise makers (Lou Reed, Neil Young, Jack White), there’s something really special when Segall simply strums an acoustic. Slow motion accusations abound to an unnamed antagonist. Or is it directed to everybody? Or just me?
One of the few missteps on the album, “Thank you Mr. K,” is a four to the floor rev up with no particular place to go. Like most gas guzzlers, the ride isnt worth the cost. But don’t fret — it ends quickly (with crashing glass SFX!), followed by the Flower Power Pop of “Orange Color Queen,” which would fit nicely on an Emitt Rhodes compilation. It’s about as pretty as it gets; a starry-eyes game of Mad Libs: “Oh, you’re my cherry fizzle sundae/oh, you’re a tree inside an airplane.” It’s “You had me at hello” for the Echo Park crowd.
Another stand out, “Take Care (To Comb Your Hair),” begins as an AM Gold folk tune before ushering in all the theatrics of the The Who — windmill guitar heroics, Keith Moon-rattling snare hits, and with just enough syrup-y Lovin’ Spoonful odes to your sister’s long, blonde, golden hair. This is the prom hit of 1974.
Coming just off the heels of last years mischievous “Emotional Mugger” — an album that saw Segall promoting himself on morning news programs (much to the fears of the square hosts) — his new namesake album shows the artist in full command of his talents. But don’t expect to hear him noodling the National Anthem at rodeos just yet. “Untitled” is a four-second burp of guitar noise. That’s it. End of album. And you know what? I listened to it twice.
Mike Postalakis (@mikepostalakis) is a writer, director and comedian living in Los Angeles. He doesn’t have a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or HBO Go account. Instead, he spends his extra money at the Gap.