Ty Segall has always crafted his songs with an expert combination of volume and melody, delivering his gritty, fuzzed-out sound with a pop sensibility. His new record, the second self-titled album in his discography, finds the California singer-songwriter struggling to integrate these two abilities. The result: rockers that cross the line from powerful to abrasive, and acoustic tunes that lie between catchy and contrived.
The new record finds Segall going for an even rougher sound than on his past efforts. Guitars and drums dominate the soundscape, with other instruments used but often lost in the mix. Furthermore, the mixing sounds slightly more distant and muffled. This creates a listening experience that borders on annoying at times; instead of being immersive and engaging (see 2011’s Melted), Ty Segall at its worst is a mosquito buzzing in your ear. Many of the towering rockers that dominate the first side feature grating guitar soloing that is neither inspired nor purposeful. An otherwise strong song like “Freedom,” which features a captivating stop-and-start melody, unfortunately concludes with a section that sounds like a jam session outtake. “The Only One” has some similarly overindulgent guitar work, this time featuring two guitars struggling to find their footing. Conversely, other tracks are markedly more pleasant to the ear, but much more forgettable: “Take Care (To Comb Your Hair),” the closing track, is a dismal display of borrowed chord progressions and boring vocals.
Still, there are certain pleasant moments on the record. The opening track, “Break a Guitar,” features the calculated sense of chaos that Segall has proven himself so adept at delivering. A mammoth, sludgy guitar riff drives the verses and the chorus hits hard, anchored by power chords and embellished with some fills that truly feel improvisational, adding to the already gritty, garage-like feel of this headbanger. Lead single “Orange Color Queen,” a softer number, shines with a golden melody and some truly beautiful vocalizations. However, its slow acoustic introduction and half-time ending feel uninspired. Like the rest of the record, it shows promise, but its greatness is lost amid a wash of mediocrity.