Ty Segall: Prolific but brilliant
The problem with most prolific home-recording heroes is not the inflated ambition, but the batting average: The mere fact that Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices), Nick Salomon (the Bevis Frond), and Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Palace, etc.) put out lots and lots of records just ain’t enough when only a third of the material on each new offering was really worth our time. The amazing thing about Southern California lo-fi garage-rock hero Ty Segall isn’t that he gives us a truckload of new songs every year; it’s that so many of them are great. In fact, he keeps getting better, and song for song, the new Manipulator is the strongest album yet in his long discography.
In part, Segall and his now steady and reliable band are synthesizing sounds they’ve explored before on individual discs—filligreed Beatles psych-pop, Syd Barrett madcap acoustic-folk, Standells-style garage-rock snarl—all in one place, while also adding some new flavors to the mix, including glam-rock style and sneer and hints of Love/Forever Changes orchestration. Mostly, though, the success of Manipulator comes down to the songwriting and the musicianship: The inescapable hooks of “The Clock,” “The Faker,” and the title track and the absolutely ferocious guitars and pummeling rhythms of “The Crawler” and “Feel.”
Seventeen tracks, seventeen wins, and a beginning-to-end joy ride that I just can’t stop repeating. Hot damn, this boy is good.
Ty Segall, Manipulator (Drag City)
Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.