Despite being astonishingly prolific, I’ve only gotten wise to Ty Segall‘s musical output recently; my album intro was June’s Slaughterhouse, performed with Segall’s touring band (reviewed here). Hearing Twins, recorded almost entirely by Segall himself, has proved he’s not a one trick pony. Twins hits the sweet spot between heavy guitar fuzz and pretty melodies and is immediately, deliriously enjoyable.
That’s not to say Twins is full of disposable pop songs. In these post-post-ironic times, it’s not uncommon for music fans to feel distrustful of something they like immediately, concerned about being manipulated by both our nostalgia and the desire for something that’s not a rip-off.
Segall has discovered some alchemical secret to reverse engineer the Beatles by way of Cheap Trick, dispensing with Rick Nielsen’s hot licks and adding a lot more feedback. Plus, Segall’s never met a chord change or a compelling harmony that he didn’t like (or one that I didn’t like, for that matter). While Twins has outstanding songs, it tends (especially in its first half) to feel more like a collection of them, rather than an album that coalesces together. This is a minor complaint; if Segall continues to record at this rate, it probably won’t be an issue for long.
“Thank God For Sinners” opens with what Segall is best at: ridiculously sing-along-able melodies. It also displays one of the things that sets him apart from so many retro garage rocker dudes: that voice. He is not afraid to show off that voice, both Beatle-esque and androgynous. “You’re The Doctor” falters only slightly with an excess of whammy bar noodling, but otherwise tears it up most admirably. The Beatles never shredded like this.
The slightly sinister lyrics of “Inside Your Heart” (not a cover of “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” from Slaughterhouse) might just be a sarcastic stab at heartbreak. For someone with such shameless skills at rocking the fuck out of your ears, Segall’s lyrics here seem fixated on matters of the heart. Nearly every song includes the word “love” or alludes to it.
The opening vocals of “The Hill” captivate, with help from Bridgid Dawson. It’s an uncanny sensation, both uniquely modern yet eerily retro, recalling female-fronted groups like Coven or Shocking Blue. “Would You Be My Love” is again, startlingly vintage and new at the same time. “Ghost” trudges along with a heavy bass melody supporting its shimmering vocals.
Although the first half of the album is good, Twins takes off in a massive way with “They Told Me Too,” starting with a fantastic drumbeat and the delicious contrast of Segall’s soaring vocals against the dark crunch of guitars. “Love Fuzz” continues the momentum with a Stooges-stomp and Segall’s falsetto.
“Handglams” is the pinnacle of many highlights on Twins, however, with a ridiculously simple, yet great, blues riff and vocal melody, alternating with a heavy, wordless, guitar-driven chorus. It’s flawless. Even the ending is perfect, especially after many of the tunes on the first half of Twins fade out into noodling feedback when they would be served better with a strong finish.
The Zombies nod at the beginning of “Who Are You?” is well placed, as is the shake of a tambourine and the nearly haunting vocals. “Gold On The Shore,” acoustic and completely feedback and fuzz-free, is like a cold ocean breeze; anyone who though Segall might be masking a lack of skill with amplifiers and effects pedals will feel ashamed.
With so much focus on love, one wonders if Ty Segall is just a hopeless romantic. Even though “There Is No Tomorrow” might seem to be more nihilistic than anything else on the album, it’s still about love. After all what’s more romantic than holding hands during the apocalypse? It’s the perfect ending.
Twins is out today from Drag City and is available from the label’s website in LP, CD, cassette, MP3, or LP + download.
Sun. Oct. 14: San Francisco, CA @ Treasure Island Festival
Wed. Nov. 7: London, UK @ The Garage
Thu. Nov. 8: Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
Fri. Nov. 9: Glasgow, UK @ Art School
Sat. Nov. 10: Athens, GR @ An Club
Mon. Nov. 12: Lyon, FR @ Clacson
Tue. Nov. 13: Amiens, FR @ La Lune des Pirates + K-Holes
Wed. Nov. 14: Rennes, FR @ L’Antipote
Thu. Nov. 15: Rouen, FR @ Le 106
Fri. Nov. 16: Metz, FR @ Les Trinitaires
Sat. Nov. 17: Besancon, FR @ La Rodia
Sun. Nov. 18: Bourg en Bresse, FR @ La Tannerie
Mon. Nov. 19: Milano, IT @ Low File
Tue. Nov. 20: Lausanne, CH @ Le Romandie
Wed. Nov. 21: Nïmes, FR @ La Paloma
Thu. Nov. 22: San Sebastian, ES @ Gazteszena
Fri. Nov. 23: La Roche Sur Yon, FR @ Le Fuzz’Yon
Sat. Nov. 24: Paris, FR @ BB Mix Fest
Mon. Nov. 26: Luxembourg City, LU @ Exit 07
Tue. Nov. 27: Kortrijk, BE @ DE Kreun
Wed. Nov. 28: Groningen, NL @ Vera Club
Thu. Nov. 29: Leipzig, DE @ UT Connewitz
Fri. Nov. 30: Brussels, BE @ Atelier 210
Sat. Dec. 1: Koln, DE @ Mini Fest
Sun. Dec. 2: Utrecht, NL @ Guess Who Festival
Tue. Dec. 11: Seattle, WA @ Neumos
Wed. Dec. 12: Vancouver, BC @ Waldorf
Thu. Dec. 13: Portland, OR @ Star Theater
Sat. Dec. 15: Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey