[sic] Magazine

Ty Segall – Manipulator

A time-strapped reviewer could probably get away with copy-pasting his thoughts on Ty Segall’s all-over-the-place Twins LP instead of a new commission for Manipulator. The highly prolific Bay Area rocker has embraced many styles during his 8 solo LPs, not to mention his work as Fuzz, with the Ty Segall Band and other projects. You have 60s psyche, proto-punk shred, lo-fi garage – and Twins, like Manipulator, had elements of them all, but in upping his fidelities and drawing fully on that back-catalogue for the first time, Manipulator is also Segall’s most complete and accessible album to date. It’s also one of his best.

Of course with Segall you always get quantity and quality, and here you get no less 17 tracks that took a relatively whopping 14-months to write and record. Time well spent as the clean chops of first single “Feel” – one of many candidates – prove, a pacey cut that establishes a killer groove before ushering in the shred – a pattern Segall uses throughout. Never is this more evident than on “The Faker”, which gets down and dirty with QOTSA-brand boogie and grumbling bass, blasting boring riffasaurus like Royal Blood clean out of the water as Segall demands you “ask your bossman for a raise”.

Segall oversees a tumbling stream of picture-perfect pop-rock from start to finish (he plays most instruments himself), spinning out his strangled falsetto during excitable passages and chilling out in tune with flowery psyche-folk offerings like “The Clock”. In between the brain-melters (check “It’s Over” and the equalizer-troubling rip-snorter “The Crawler) and simple summertime jams, Segall also turns in glam-tinged indie-rock in the form of “The Singer”, as well as off-the-cuff 60s acoustics with blended riffs nagging away throughout. A quick-fire midsection as side-A closes and B begins ensures the near-hour-long running time doesn’t blur into one, so too Segall’s creaking organ, searing feedback and 70s rock solos that seem to go from nought-to-gnarly in two seconds flat.

Manipulator might be remembered best for its pure wail and buzzed-out nuggets, the fretwork on “Susie Thumb” is ripe for an advance-level Guitar Hero workout, but as an album it’s more than that. Just within one track, for example, “The Feels”, on which Segall annihilates a breezy Beatles melody with righteous psyche-noise, you can see and feel the gleeful distillation of Segall’s personality in progress. Indeed with a spot of judicious editing Manipulator could have been absolutely perfect. As it stands, it remains thrilling, excessive and glorious.

Best tracks: “The Faker” and “The Crawler”

~Manipulator is out now on Drag City.~

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