Friday, January 27, 2017

Ty Segall - Ty Segall Review

Expectations rise whenever a self-titled album is announced. By theory, their existence is set on defining the musician themselves. Of course, it makes sense the majority are their debut albums. From Gorillaz to The xx to David Bowie, countless artists have gone this route when emerging on the scene. Rarer though, are when self-titled LP's are found in the middle of a burgeoning career. However, these typically follow a pattern, as evident in cases like Led Zeppelin or Weezer. Ty Segall doesn't like patterns, apparently. The Garage Rocker, whose dropped nine albums in nine years, has constantly challenged structural ideas, attempting to stick to a theme with each record. His latest, 2016's Emotional Mugger, found him joined by The Muggers, a touring group of weirdo's in baby masks. Highs were met with lows, with riotous standouts found in 'Diversion,' 'The Magazine,' and 'Candy Sam,' typical for an artist with such a breadth of music in short spurts. So what happens when Ty Segall returns to Ty Segall? Another album, the first since his debut, to feature his own name seems intent on defining himself. Based on the content's within though, is it rather a lack of imagination causing a redundant title?

The answer to that proposition isn't clear, as both sides have a point. In one reality, yes, this is another collection of nine songs dropping less than a year before his last batch. A daunting look inside one's self can't be ascertained in such a short timespan. An often-utilized quote once said that an artist's debut album took them their lifetime to make, whilst their sophomore follow-up took only two years. Ty Segall isn't a reinvention, for Garage Rock nor the musician himself. However, what's left to imagine is whether these tracks define the man himself. A strange, quick, and abrupt recession from his delirious Mugger stage, where he famously imploded on stage during Conan's late night talk show, to a more relaxed, subdued, anxiety-reducing Ty may be the answer. Like a regret harping on a misshapen idea, despite keeping many of the same names around, Segall's latest affair is strikingly less artistic. Sure, its cover is as black and white as Emotional Mugger, but a creepy doll's head is replaced by Segall's own, blurry and captured mid-session, as if the focus is, once again, only on the music. His ninth LP follows that rhythm. Stripped, bare, and profusely fundamental, Ty Segall's a return to the musician's dim roots.

To those who don't take much to wow, or are satisfied with the simpler things in life, Ty Segall will please. It's an inoffensive rock record created for the sole purpose of creating music. Apart from the massive, and downright odd, ten-minute 'Warm Hands,' no other song eclipses four minutes, making for a rushed LP that only allows itself one moment to jam. That epic, which takes many ideas from its previous track, 'Freedom,' quite literally leaves that track open-ended, reveling in the sounds so much that Segall felt content dragging it out. Somehow, thanks in large part to its ever-shifting structure, 'Warm Hands' never stagnates, keeping listeners on their toes with an impromptu imbalance of soft and harsh dynamics. While that track is free-flowing, all the others, contained in succinct boxes, don't stray too far from their beaten path. There's rarely a proper crescendo to be found, as each song, whether rooted in clean acoustics or ugly reverb, starts and ends with that basis intact. Only Ty Segall's final track, 'Take Care (To Comb Your Hair),' efforts a guitar solo for send-off purposes. True to his word, these tracks really are just music for music's sake.

The result is a double-edged sword, falling squarely on the ease of enjoyment. There's a handful of songs that succeed on that front effortlessly, like 'Break A Guitar,' 'Freedom,' or 'Orange Color Queen.' They're never outstanding, something not to expect from classic Garage Rock, but they work as simple diddy's that'll leave you satisfied. Like a meal you'll always enjoy, but will rarely remember by the next day. 'Break A Guitar' is a classic case of this, but the result is almost too dirty to truly find memorable. Acting as the less impressive twin brother, 'The Only One' abides by the same formula, throwing a relative curveball with a mid-track solo sighting, but rarely appeals, either sonically, lyrically, or vocally. These are the raucous tracks, per usual Garage Rock standards. However, Ty Segall is heavily split between those and conventional Acoustic Rock, a la Wilco. It's a comparison that's entirely unavoidable, and almost inexcusable, if it weren't for Wilco's basic normality to begin with. On tracks like 'Talkin' and 'Take Care,' Segall embodies Jeff Tweedy to extreme levels. They're highly comparable to their older work, but also their latest, 2016's Schmilco.

As evident, the musical components, more often than not, are rather standard and unassuming, abiding by long-rooted practices conducted within the scene. Ironically, that nonchalance defines Ty Segall perfectly. He's an unconcerned artist, merely content at entertaining himself in the here and now. Lyrically, the same rules are followed, caring only about the topic at hand before moving onto the next. Whether he's introducing the music itself ('Break A Guitar'), gushing about his significant other ('The Only One,' 'Orange Color Queen'), or incapsulating a hellish daydream ('Thank You Mr. K'), Segall's your stereotypical songwriter, centering songs around ideas theorized and recorded in the present. At this stage, with Ty Segall, the musician is relying entirely on his own talents, appeal, and merits. With a faithful following, he'll do just fine. However, welcoming new crowds will prove difficult with an album so rooted in the present. Ty Segall doesn't effort a long term approach, satisfying those who listen immediately, like that meal that'll cure your grumbling stomach. There's a few marketable standouts, and plenty of fun to be had, but Ty Segall's second self-titled feels too conventional for a genre intent on breaking the rules.

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