Ty Segall: Manipulator Review (Three Takes) (Show Wednesday!)
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are three reactions, three impressions, three takes on Manipulator by Ty Segall.
On paper, this latest release in Ty’s discography has all the makings of a blunder. At a rather self-indulgent 17 tracks that is to function as a double album, it may seem like a lot to take in given the differences in the breadth of material that Ty has released, from the grunge induced Slaughterhouse, to last year’s acoustically melancholy Sleeper. However, Manipulator ends up being yet another fantastic Ty Segall release, which is able to take the blend of many styles that Ty can showcase, from the hazy AM radio sounds of the title track, and a little bit of grunge meets garage rock on ” Tall Man, Skinny Lady,” as well as the psychedelic 70s-like standards on “The Clock” and “It’s Over,” which almost has a similar style to early era Doors, Ty showcases he can do it all on his longest player yet, clocking in at 56 minutes. With many leaving proclamations as to it being Ty Segall’s best body of work thus far, it’s hard to debate with that lofty praise, given that sonically speaking, Manipulator can work as a great introduction to Ty’s other albums, and in turn as one of those albums that stand out among the best in Ty’s body of work.
I am starting to think that maybe Ty Segall should have his very own rating scale for records – his output has been so consistently high quality that it sort of feels like handing out one A after another. That may sound a bit dramatic but shit, a great Ty Segall album doesn’t really surprise me anymore it’s just kind of expected. And the newest record Manipulator is definitely great. All the things that Segall does well are fully represented – British psych rock, acid folk, and above all – super catchy hooks. I feel like the album stretches on for longer than it needs to but I also feel like I am nitpicking here – if any other artist delivered this same album I probably wouldn’t have a negative thing to say. But again, this being Ty Segall and since Segall operates on another plane, yeah, it is maybe a little long. And there also really isn’t much new to hear: within about 5 seconds of each song it is pretty easy to identify who the artist is. Not that Segall is getting formulaic: within the scope of his pastiche he really excels at forging new paths through his territory. And it’s a pretty wide territory at that. Still, a surprise or two might have been nice. But yeah, small gripes about a record that is largely pretty terrific.
I almost have a tic when it comes to Ty Segall. What do you think of his new…., will almost certainly be met with an emphatic “awesome.” From his days as a fuzzy one-man band throughout his incredible stretch of amazing LPs and the trail of blood and sweat left on venue floors from his raucous live show, I’ve yet to find fault with his work. While it is boring and uncontroversial to say, I find myself in the same boat with his latest LP Manipulator. At many points toning down the gnarling fuzz in favor or a more burnt-soul psychedelia, it sits well next to Goodbye Bread, his previous high water mark for letting his melodies creep out from beneath the rattling hiss. “The Singer” & “Green Belly” are downright pretty, while “The Clock” has a dusty ambience to it that feels more back porch than basement. It isn’t that Segall left the Sabbath riffs in the closet…far from it. “The Connection Man” is thick as mud, “Feel” is a sonic explosion and “It’s Over” melds the fuzz and melodies like previous classics “What’s In My Head” and “The Drag.” In an alternate universe, they’d be top 40. Despite the clear reality that that isn’t going to be the case, Segall continues to solider on, making outstanding albums and bringing one of the best live shows in the business. In short? Buy this record and see him live.