You never see Ty Segall and Keith Lemon in the same place, do you? Apart from a passing resemblance, there's something capricious and exhilarating that unites the two, characteristics that exemplify Segall's self-titled 2017 album. Segall has curated a miscellany of songs that encapsulate his previous solo efforts, a veritable "Through the Keyhole" tour of his prolific, diverse career so far. Less scratchy than 2016's "Emotional Mugger", it retains some of that jagged edge, whilst feeling more crafted and nuanced, and less like being hit with a paving slab whilst trying to kick a serious caffeine habit.
Hallmark Steve Albini production brings an unrefined, unspoilt sound. Thirty-six minutes long and recorded with the full band in the studio, it has the freshness of a first-rate live radio session. Rock excess kicks off immediately, "Break a Guitar" a nod perhaps to the abuse Pete Townshend meted out to Fender and Gibson products in the late 60s. Ominous, tanked-up guitar hooks lurch like the White Stripes and Hawkwind at the fuzzy end of a stag do. When Segall shrieks 'Take my guitar,/ I'll be at the bar', we can but mouth 'No sh*t, Sherlock.'
After such imposing beginnings, the only possible progression is to lay down a ten-minute, Syd Barrett psych-rock narrative that begins gently, 'waiting on the grassy field', before interspersing discrete movements of face-melting guitar thrash with Doorsy, acid trip "Riders on the Storm" keyboards, both underscored by manic, tachycardic bass. There's more deranged, terminal velocity noisemongery in the garage rock of "Thank You, Mr K", where Segall's request to 'let me drive' would elicit a kindly but firm 'no' from most. This particular journey stops abruptly halfway through to perform a 'smash & grab' on a jeweller's window. "The Only One" is an 'excess all areas' Sabbathlon, where Segall guitar-duels with Emmett Kelly, as Charlie Moothart annihilates the drumkit.
If all songs were such an assault, the album might end up a bit 'Steven Seagal', but the breezy Americana of "Talkin'" punctuates the organised chaos of the first six songs. It turns the tables on trash-talking gossips, with 'I think you're talkin' about yourself'. "Orange Color Queen" is a honeyed lovesong to his girlfriend, a rich blend of Led Zep, T Rex and Floyd's "Meddle". "Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)" is a Beatles/Byrds subtle polemic about appreciating what you have while you have it (particularly 'hair' and 'air'). Yet after an acoustic, hippy love-in opening, Segall just can't resist sneaking riffling drums and monolithic guitar chords into the chorus.
This album will tour excellently. If audiences enjoy hearing it as much as it the band clearly enjoys playing it, we're all in for a rollicking night.
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