Friday, October 18, 2013

Album Review: Ty Segall - Sleeper

Album Rating: B
Ty Segall has been one of rock’s most lovable characters in recent years. Seeing him live will reinvigorate your faith in music’s unifying powers. Reading an interview will get you bummed about not being able to hang out with him. It all comes down to one simple fact: Ty Segall is music lovers. Like Kurt Cobain before him, he’s got no intention of deifying himself or putting himself up on a pedestal. Instead, he’s reverent. His music is a celebration, in itself, of the heroes of rock and roll that have come before. Again like Cobain, his tricks are the delicate hand of his pop-smithing and the vicious primalism of his style. He’s got the ears and he’s got the chops. After putting out just an obscene amount of material in 2012, including the excellent Twins and Slaughterhouse, Ty’s taken a step back this year with Sleeper and made a tough choice: to chill out, surrendering the thick safety net of punky ferocity.

Any artist worth anything is going to feel the push to evolve, and I love that Segall’s making such a bold move. In case you haven’t listened, Slaughterhouse was utterly nasty (in the best way). Sleeper is utterly beautiful. He breaks out the tough guitars only once, near the end of “The Man Man.” The build-up and climax is powerful beyond words, but noise simply isn’t the focus here anymore. Now, sticking to melody and acoustic guitars, his ability to write a good song is all that can carry him. Does he succeed? Yes. Most of these songs have been stuck in my head at least once. For that alone, you should check this album out. If you’re a hardcore fan, though, you may be a bit disappointed. 

In terms of composition, Segall’s aesthetic hasn’t changed. It’s throwback music, psychedelic and cool to the max. If they were sped up, roughed up, every song on the record could fit snuggly in on an earlier release, but without all the fuzz to blur and coalesce, it tends to sound a little less distinctively Ty and more like the many, many inputs from decades past. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not T. Rex, it just sounds like T. Rex. And the best tracks (“Sweet C.C.” being a standout) sound the most like carbon copies. The intensity of his music, in the past, has been what stamped it as clearly modern. 

At points, it feels like Sleeper functions to make Segall’s overall sonic repertoire more robust. Maybe these mellowed down songs should have been sprinkled in over past albums, but he just realized, here in 2013, that his musical career so far has been pretty breathless, in terms of pacing. I have to say, I’d love to see some of these songs performed live. I’ll definitely be going to a show if he comes nearby soon. 

The record is rabidly catchy, like I said before. On tracks where he gets a little more adventurous, “Queen Lullaby” for example, there’s no denying that Segall is a splendid musician with some real vision. Despite a lack of musical distinction, Sleeper has personality, and, most importantly, it’s never, ever boring. He did most things right, he really did, and the record is going to go down as a good embellishment to an already really excellent rock and roll career. Keep making ‘em. 

No comments:

Post a Comment