August 18, 2013

Album Review: Ty Segall's Sleeper

At just the age of 25, Ty Segall's young career has taken off of by doing two things incredibly well: Being prolific with an acclaimed recording output and shredding the guitar to pieces while repuzzling it in a way that makes traditional rock 'n roll sound not so typical. Last year turned out to be one of the busiest years for the Golden State garage rocker that saw him release three noteworthy albums -- including his 8th solo outing, his debut with the Ty Segall Band and finally, a collaboration with White Fences -- but in contrast, 2013 has been a rare year where Segall has kept his distance from the music headlines. The tail end of the year will see the release of his newest band effort Fuzz, which relegates the ex-Laguna Beach resident behind the drum kit, making Sleeper, his ninth proper solo studio-effort in five years, the only indication as to where Segall the songwriter is these days in his craft.

The most surprising thing about Sleeper may be the fact that you can turn this one up to 10 and not have it irreparably damage your eardrums, as it's Segall's "acoustic" album, and in all its quietness, screams of transition in several senses for the former Bay Area music scene champion. In an interview with OPB, Segall described how the album was written in an apartment right before he relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles following the death of his father:
"It’s a pretty weird thing — definitely a moment in time. A few people, when I’ve been talking about this record with other interviews and stuff, they’ve asked me what the intention behind this record was or what I wanted to do with it, and the funny thing is that there wasn’t any intention for this record. It was kind of just what happened. It was one of things that, maybe through the mumbling or sitting there and playing, these are the songs that came out. It definitely has to do with that moment in time with what was going on with me, but yeah, it’s a weird thing."
Taking those details into consideration, the LP projects an easier listen that is a far more loosely constructed with its bedroom quality sound as it vanquishes much of the guitarman's fired up style in favor of a personal purge. Its title track, "The Keepers" and "She Don't Care" affix a faux British accent to Segall's tongue that easily connect to the influence of '60s glam folk visionaries Bowie and T. Rex, while songs like "Crazy" and "The Man Man" might just set up the spawn of Segall for never becoming playmates with Jack White's kids. The saving grace on Sleeper is Segall's weirdness and his ability to space out at times in the simplicity of these home-spun instruments towards its end on "Sweet C.C." and "Queen Lullabye," but even so, there's something to be said about how unplugging and cooling the punk-fueled flames in his noise assimilates him with the retro garage rock luminaries whose influence he's thus far managed to distinguish himself from.

It's not that Segall has made a bad album with Sleeper, as it continues to show promising signs in his role as a wordsmith and more depth to his sound than just over-amped freakouts. Without an "intention," however, Ty Segall has merely made an album that serves its titular purpose in cozying up on the armchair, takes the weight off your ears and lets your eyelids drop the ball on all the heavy lifting.

Ty Segall's Sleeper will be released August 20, 2013 on Drag City.

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