Ty Segall: Twins

Ty Segall
Drag City

Being prolific in any field can be a sign of a furtive, inquisitive, restless spirit. Keen to push the boundaries, always striving to test oneself or, in Ty Segall’s case, his audience as well. Equally it could be a sign of a lack of quality control, just throwing stuff out there, no sense of direction or plan, a reckless abandon about what it is you are presenting and what it says about you.

It’s clear that Ty Segall falls firmly into the former category. Such is Segall’s multifarious nature it is almost impossible to get a grip on the bands he plays in and the number of releases he’s been involved with. Twins, however, is clearly Ty’s own work and is his sixth album solely under his own moniker (It is, though, is his fourth album this year: a singles comp, a collaboration with White Fence, and an album with The Ty Segall Band. How does he do it?).

Coming from the San Francisco area, there is a wired intensity to his work that goes against the grain of the perception of the laid back, relaxed vibe of that area (certainly from a UK view). But it is also true that Segall can be seen as part of that areas music heritage particularly in the psychedelic folk/rock scene of the 1960s. Certainly, any number of tracks from Twins would not be out of place on the revered Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968 LP.

Written and performed almost exclusively by Segall, save for some backing vocals by Bridget Dawson and Peter Grimm and Charles Moothart’s drumming on opener “Ghost”, Segall attacks this album with a controlled ferocity that screams of authenticity so beloved of the Garage scene. Fuzzed up power chords and relentless drumming, with Ty’s likeable vocals bringing it all together with added handclaps thrown in for good measure, the album rattles along and is amongst the best, if not the best, work his done.

Opener “Thank God for the Sinners” starts with reversed guitar ala the Beatles before settling into a ridiculously catchy groove with a chorus that borrows it’s way into your head before “You’re the Doctor” hurtles into existence, all urgent vocals, yelps and breakneck guitar noise. And then it’s gone just as quickly but not before you recognise the work of a special talent at play.

“The Hill” is the most “psychedelic” and Beatles-like with hints of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” accompanied by spaced out guitar lines redolent of Hawkwind. I’m now laughing to myself as I read back these words thinking this just doesn’t make sense! But honestly it does, it sounds brilliant and it works perfectly. It is a standout on an album of standouts.

“Love Fuzz” has the dangerous feel of the Stones at their sleaziest, hardest best, “Handglams” recalls the woozy brilliance of the Beatles/Siouxsie’s “Dear Prudence” before exploding into a wall of noise but then coming back to a falsetto beauty, it’s all over the place but is such a great track.

And then “Who Are You” mixes the menace of the Stooges with the backbeat rhythms of the British Beat Invasion groups, again the Beatles, but also Herman’s Hermits, early Kinks, and so on. It’s as if Ty can’t quite help himself in getting all this out but he holds it together, in fact he brings it together, quite brilliantly.

This is a superb, must-have album that places Ty Segall firmly at the centre of the garage scene and continues his extraordinary evolution as a multi-faceted, multi-talented musician. What he does next is anyone’s guess. If I had to bet, my money would be on him doing something completely different to this album, but whatever it is, you can be assured it will be quality.

RATING 9 / 10