26 Jan 2018
If Prince and OutKast have taught us anything, it's that double albums are supposed to be short, succinct statements of great perfection. They are supposed to be sprawling proof that unedited talent can be more exhilarating than well-edited genius. "The White Album" had the largest quantity of weak Beatles songs, but it was also absolutely bonkers, and a more fun listen than Revolver.
Am I saying that Ty Segall is the new Paul McCartney? Of course not, but in a larger sense – yes, and also – who cares? He made a record called Freedom's Goblin. There's a start. Is the title some jab at post-modern politics in America? Probably, but in a larger sense – again, who cares when you have these many good songs.
Now take into account that the record has the murderer's row of double album content – 1. A song about a dog that pretends its serious 2. Saxophone. 3. A song called the Last Waltz which has a beat you can actually waltz to. It's in 3/4 time. They thought of everything. Was there any chance this record wasn't going to be great? 4. The best song is a psychotic rock masterpiece and the song immediately after it is a tender Elephant 6 inspired acoustic pop jam. 5. Some alternate universe Grateful Dead inspired 12-minute wankery. Um. YES.
The polar opposite of last year's clear, clean self-titled outing, this double record is the refrigerator sandwich of Ty Segall's career. A refrigerator sandwich is when you don't want to go to the grocery store, so you just pile on anything that's left in the fridge, often with wrong or expired condiments, almost always with mismatching bread or at the very least an end piece that no one wanted. That is the paradox record. The record that by its very nature should alienate anyone but core fans, but because of its wacky, charming quality will do just the opposite.
There have been diminishing returns since the peak of psychedelic soaked rock odyssey Melted. Goodbye Bread, Slaughterhouse and Hair all shared in this peak. Even Twins was a garage rock masterpiece. Manipulator was a tad overrated and is now more clearly visible as the blueprint for this record, and Emotional Mugger and last year's self-titled records lacked the intensity or song quality of his best releases. All of this made the announcement of a double album seem like a sigh to me. I was dead wrong.
"She" ends with a several minute guitar solo and it leads right into "Prison" which is a guitar solo. That leads into "Talkin 3" which starts with a horn solo. "Fanny Dog" contains the delightful time wasting that is often forgotten from the classic rock, and especially the Led Zeppelin think pieces. "I'm Free" is the best Paul McCartney melody in a decade excluding "New" which everyone slept on.
"5 ft. Tall" has enough muscular guitars mixed with Beck style acoustics to make you wish this record came out in 2001 because Ty could have been such a great addition to whatever that garage rock revival was. "And Goodnight" is the only major misstep on the record. I mean, you have to have some unreasonably long song, or it wouldn't be a sprawling double album, but the rhythm and blues groove can't hold attention for a quarter the time it tries to. It's not a weak song in and of itself, but it can't work as a break or a conclusion to the power that came before it. A somewhat weak ending for a bonkers and great record. Thanks, Ty.