Music Reviews

Ty Segall Twins

(Drag City) Rating - 8/10

If 2012 ends up being considered the year that blistering, uncompromising rock music took hold of the independent music scene by force, then Ty Segall will be remembered as the fearless general that led it to victory. Whether he’s tearing up the local clubs of San Francisco or sparking riotous behavior on a morning news show (WGN Morning News in Chicago, to be exact), Ty Segall proves that he doesn’t just play rock n’ roll, he embodies it with every fuzzed out riff he can muster. In an age where the term “rock and roll” can hardly be used without some sort of ironic undertone, it seems like the perfect time for someone to reclaim its dignity.

Though he’s been releasing music for a few years now, Segall has since taken 2012 by storm with the promise of three distinct releases. The first two, the laid back White Fence collaboration, Hair, and the fantastic full-band massacre, Slaughterhouse, have already proved to be two of Segall’s greatest works, with each release highlighting the man’s distinct talents in opposing lights. Twins, Ty’s last hurrah for the year and first to be released as a solo record, is his victory lap after a long year of kicking ass and taking names. Overall, Twins proves to be an excellent collection of over-driven garage pop scorchers that fully exhibit Ty’s personality and passion for rock and roll glory.

Way back in the year 2011 (which is like four years ago in Segall years), Ty released his last solo album, the dazed, sunburnt Goodbye Bread. Though it’s Cali-bred atmosphere and garage rock riffs were certainly typical elements of Ty’s work, that album was certainly more of a practice in restraint, dialing down on the calamity of his earlier releases for a more streamlined, pop-oriented focus. And while this approach worked incredibly well, Twins proves that he’s ready to return to the 60’s-worshipping fuzz rock found on previous works like Lemons and Melted. Perhaps he’s still high off the fumes from the wildfire that was Slaughterhouse, but from the fierce opener Thank God for Sinners and onwards, it’s evident that Ty Segall still has plenty of kerosene left over to burn.

Keep in mind, however, that Slaughterhouse and Twins were recorded under entirely different circumstances. While the steamroller strength of Slaughterhouse was due in large part to the inclusion of Ty’s vicious live band in its recording and writing, Twins sees him going back to his instincts by doing everything himself, with each instrument recorded individually. Though this does signify a loss in the live rawness that defined Slaughterhouse, Ty’s latest provides no less of a crushing blow. Even some of the albums sweetest tracks, like the delightfully poppy Would You Be My Love, are caked in a particularly thick level of distortion and feedback not seen on many of his previous solo records, with ragers like You’re The Doctor and They Told Me Too taking full advantage of this aesthetic to create some of the most punishing tracks Ty has ever conceived on his own.

Despite the guitar tones on Twins being muddier and more crushing than ever before, they’re in effect responsible for giving the album a richer, fuller, and more densely packed sound than any of Ty Segall’s previous solo albums, as even the most quintessential sounding Segall tracks found on Twins are given their own unique identity. Ty’s been known for crafting many fully stoned, psychedelic slow burners in his past (Goodbye Bread was practically built on this foundation), and his latest certainly doesn’t lack in this department. However, tracks like Handglams and the mammoth sized Ghost bypass “adequate stoner jams” to become bottomless tar pits of harrowing doom rock, drowning listeners in their thick, primordial muck. This kind of sound may have seemed to come naturally when recording as Ty Segall Band, but these examples show just what a force of nature Ty Segall can be when operating solely within his own elements.

In the end, however, solo records are meant to display the strengths of an artist’s songwriting abilities, and while Twins undoubtedly shows how far Ty has come in executing his sound, it also makes an excellent case for his skills as a songwriter. Admittedly, the songs found on Twins don’t really explore a lot of new territory, as these tracks are still just as indebted to the sounds of the 1960s and the almighty influence of California as much of his past work is. Rather than deny these characteristics, however, he embraces them in as many different ways as possible, resulting in a varied and well-developed collection of badass pop and rock tunes. And whether the songs veer towards fully charged rock (The Hill), bloody-nosed punk (You’re the Doctor), bouncy sunshine-pop (Would You Be My Love), or pristine folk-pop (Gold On the Shore), they are all nonetheless grounded by some of Ty’s most infectious riffs, prettiest melodies, and grittiest angst yet.

With October halfway over and his 3rd release of the year already on store shelves, it seems that the triumphant year of Ty Segall is coming to a close, though it doesn’t seem like he would have anything to regret. Even though I would probably argue that his year peaked with Slaughterhouse, Twins proves to be a fitting conclusion simply because it shows how far Ty has come as a solo artist. While his amateurism is clearly behind him, what makes Twins and Ty’s music in general, so great is how he can still approach his music like a rambunctious 16 year old starting his first band even after working his ass off to release three albums in one year. Ty Segall might be one of the hardest working garage rockers around, but, in true rock and roll fashion, he merely makes it look easy.