Written by: Jimmy McQuadeDate: August 15th, 2014
For a musician who has garnered a reputation for such a preternatural output – releasing under various monikers three full-length albums in 2012 alone – California’s garage-rock crusader, Ty Segall, has of late been conspicuously absent from record store shelves. Quite nearly losing his record-a-year stride, a precedent set and maintained ever since his first release in 2008, Segall’s latest effort Manipulator comes to us on August 26th, a little more than a year after 2013’s quiet, unpolished, angsty, yet satisfying Sleeper.
Manipulator is Ty Segall’s longest and most slaved over record, a 17 track double album that took close to 14 months to complete. One thinks of Steve Albini’s admonition to Nirvana just before the recording of In Utero whenever the term “double album” comes up: “If a record takes more than a week to make, somebody’s fucking up.” But if anyone could defy Albini’s claim, it’s Segall. Pitchfork’s Jayson Greene writes promisingly of Segall’s upcoming release: “Every single thing Segall has ever been good at is here, refined and sharpened and polished until it feels like a platonic expression of itself…. [Manipulator] is the stab at a defining statement that Segall has always seemed congenitally allergic to.” Greene seems just a tad pretentious and hyperbolic here (“…like a platonic expression of itself…” Eek!), but in my mind he isn’t very far off the mark.
For those unfamiliar with Segall’s music, he is known most for a delightfully manic, playful and fuzzed-out brand of garage-rock which is at turns menacing, hypnotic, winsome, contemplative; just listen the songs “Where Your Head Goes”, “Goodbye Bread,” “Girlfriend,” “The Keepers,” and you’ll see. The new album, Manipulator, or what I’ve heard of it (which amounts to about a handful of songs), stands firmly on the ground Segall has inhabited since the beginning; only difference I could glean is that the new songs seem just a little less rough around the edges, which I suppose is what happens when one spends over a year making a record – luckily, the results are far from lifeless, sterile.
The first song off Manipulator I came across was “Tall Man Skinny Lady,” a bouncy tune that just begs to be sung along to (even if you don’t quite know the lyrics yet) and opens with a wide-open guitar solo that swings like a pendulum to the drum beat established and driven through your head. “Feel,” released as the album’s single, is probably Segall’s most groovy song with a middle-section breakdown that employs both a cowbell and what sounds like a triangle as embellishment to the rhythm section. And finally, “Susie Thumb,” which is a pleasantly fuzz-fucked psych romp that could have been a long-lost record from Segall’s 2012 album Twins. I’ve got a feeling we’re in for one of Segall’s best records.