Ty Segall Revives The Lost Art Of The Album

ba75464c379f3e3f975c0a94673e6f59Just when you think Ty Segall is mortal, he astounds you all over again.  We didn’t love Emotional Mugger when it came out a year ago, though we admired its conceptual breadth. But with the eponymous Ty Segall, the West Coast wunderkind has done more than release the best album of an intense, hugely productive career.  He has revived the album format, which has been under assault since the dawn of MP3s.

Sticky FingersImperial Bedroom, even — especially? — Sandinista were all exemplars of that long lost artform, the pacing of an album as a collection of disparate songs, showcasing different idioms and genres, all adding up to a defining whole.  Last year’s Emotional Mugger was a concept album, a series of connected songs, but the music didn’t really gel.  Or at least it wasn’t a collection of songs I much wanted to listen to a lot.

On Ty Segall, the young genius has pulled together a collection of songs that are remarkably different from one another, but they don’t pull apart, they spin with centripetal force.  The most astonishing song of the lot is the 10:21 suite, “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)”, which in five movements takes in the whole of Segall protege Wand’s prog, the Santana-influences of the Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” and two or three of Mr. Segall and his pal Mikal Cronin’s modern Power Pop’n’Punk flavorings.  It’s a tour de force.  But the whole album is, really.

Since Segall’s advent at the beginning of this decade, rock’n’roll has been revived, and he’s the biggest reason.  Yes, we would still have Thee Oh Sees if Ty had not burst upon the scene.  But for at least seven years, Segall’s influence on other artists, and his own great output of self-produced, largely self-created records has added up to a movement.  He’s Shiva, creator and destroyer, making rock’n’roll relevant again.  With Manipulator a couple years back, he seemed to cast his lot with commercial success, and produced one of the catchiest collections of radio rock this side of the White Stripes or the Black Keys.  With Ty Segall, he’s gone for some thing bigger.  An *album* you mention in the same sentence as Sticky Fingers, Imperial Bedroom, even Sandinista.

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