Words About Music
Ty Segall “Manipulator”
It should be illegal for Ty Segall to be as good as he is. He’s released several albums with several different artists for not even a decade, and they’ve all been at least decent. When it comes to California underground garage/psychedelic rock, Ty Segall is probably the most significant name of the bunch. Across as many as twenty albums he’s proven that he’s an excellent song-writer, versatile musician, and is capable of appropriating eras of music he wasn’t even alive during and making them interesting. While other garage rock revivalists tend to lose steam by album #2, Segall has proven time and time again that he’s always got more tricks up his sleeve.
Coming a year (almost to the day) after his last solo full-length album, “Sleeper,” Segall’s seventh solo album “Manipulator” is his longest and most expansive project yet. Needless to say, I was worried when I saw that there were seventeen songs on here (no interludes, no skits; seventeen full songs) clocking out to almost an hour’s length. All of his albums up to this point have been more in the 30-40 minute range, which makes sense. Segall’s aesthetic, while good and fun, doesn’t seem like the kind that could remain interesting for more than 40 minutes. By some miracle though he manages to draw it out nearly to the hour mark and still produce a cohesive, coherent, and ultimately likable album. If anything, it’s more outwardly likable than his more raucous and noisy records.
While Ty Segall probably won’t be praised in the future for his sonic ambition (most of his albums would probably sell very well in the eras he’s emulating), he will definitely be praised for his likable demeanor, great songwriting, and ability to do psychedelic rock, garage rock, noise rock, indie folk, and protopunk with equal ease and zeal. If anything, “Manipulator” is his most daring effort both in its length and its incredibly accessible appearance. I don’t know if he’s released or plans on releasing any singles, but if he does he could probably gain quite a fanbase outside the rock purists and Pitchfork readers he’s already claimed.
While I usually have a strong dislike for bands that create watered-down retrospective rock rather than experimenting with new technology and sounds, Ty Segall’s music is so groovy and catchy that I can’t help but fall victim to his charm. Also the fact that rather than stick with one style across several albums, he seems to emulate everybody to a point where he sounds ultra original. “Manipulator” is a better album than it needed to be as Segall already has some great ones under his belt*, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. There’s some superfluous instrumental jamming (how many guitar solos do we really need?) but for the most part this album is another better-than-decent addition to Ty Segall’s prolific and ever-growing discography.
*some of my favorite Segall records, for those that are looking to penetrate his large and frightening discography, are “Slaughterhouse,” “Goodbye Bread,” and “Hair”
SCORE – 7.9
FAVORITE TRACKS – Manipulator, The Singer, It’s Over, Feel, The Faker, The Clock, Mister Main, The Crawler, Who’s Producing You?, The Feels, Stick Around