The release of Slaughterhouse is fun’n'pretty good, but it isn’t even the best Ty Segall offering of the past three months. That distinction, of course, goes to Hair, which the young tyro mushed together with his only slightly older comrade Tim Presley d/b/a White Fence. Whereas Hair showed what happens when solo recording monkeys get to play together, Slaughterhouse is a release of the Ty Segall Band — that’s right, a band — and we had high hopes for it. Some of them are realized, but I can’t help but feeling like this is the climactic scene in one of those old James Bond movies where inside the villain’s multi-zillion dollar lair, the red lights and sirens are beginning to go off, and a recorded voice dispassionately declares, “Danger: We Will Self-Destruct in three minutes.” And you root for the good guys to get out alive.
See, it’s not like the songs aren’t good. Maybe as many as five of them are great, beginning with “I Bought My Eyes,” which could have been on Melted or Goodbye Bread, the amazing solo albums Segall released, well it only seems like ten minutes ago. Same with “The Tongue,” and “Tell Me What’s In Your Heart,” and a few other ditties that qualify as tuneful garagemetalpsych. But on this ‘un, on the whole Slaughterhouse project, replete with a version of “Diddy Wah Diddy” the world could have lived without, we get the feeling that Ty’s just getting off bashing around, that songwriting comes so easily to him that he could probably put out an album a month, and — brace yourself — may even be revving up to do so. No, we’re not going to invoke Ryan Adams, and what happens when someone dripping with talent has a compulsion to dabble in multiple genres and release stuff at a pace that makes Joyce Carol Oates seem like a slacker.
The warning here, if we may slip into avuncular advice mode, is that if he doesn’t watch it, Ty Segall could become the next Robert Pollard. I mean, when was the last time anyone got excited about a new Guided By Voices or Pollard offering, other than the band’s first cousins and next of kin? With Pollard/GBV, you know there will be four or five good songs, maybe even a couple of great songs, but the sheer energy it takes to wade through and locate ‘em begins to daunt after a while.
Right now Ty Segall, with the energy of youth and the talent of Michelangelo, is having a blast, critics love him, the music is of a higher order, he’s inventive and fun, and its always a joy to witness someone who colors even outside of punk rock boxes. But it would be nice to channel his talent sufficiently to get some shape to his career. Yeah, career. Nice if he would now set his goals on making something great, which he is more than capable of doing, as no doubt teachers told his parents as far back as kindergarten. And we don’t mean making the best Whitesnake tribute album ever. We mean rising to produce, with a band, or a partner like Tim Presley, or all by his polymath lonesome, something that makes Nuggets and Beggars Banquet seem second rate. We wouldn’t suggest it if we didn’t think it was within his grasp. We’re rooting for him, even as we carve a little self-protective critical distance, dreading the potential for future disappointment.