There’s no denying Ty Segall is a prodigy, but his new (tenth) full length album, Freedom’s Goblin, cements his place as the father of modern psych rock. Segall had been hinting at an album for a while, dropping numerous promising singles, but nothing could prepare us for the project that followed. The Californian mastermind lets his wide range of influences bleed through into his music, allowing a multi-coloured stream of punk, rock, psych, folk and funk to shine through, showing huge freedom in style and utilising the double album format to its full experimental capacity. The result is a project that’s passionately funny, expansive, violent and concise all at the same time.
‘Fanny Dog’ opens the album; as heavy layered guitar beatings ensue, Ty allows his raw vocals to lead you through a goofy song about his dog.
The brass builds up and adds huge weight to the song before crushing you into an interlude. A quick inhale is allowed on the ballad ‘Rain’ where the band sprinkle instrumentation more sparsely and introduce some piano into the mix. Ty comes off as melancholic and contemplative, sounding almost like Thom Yorke in places on this track. These songs set the tone for the rest of the album as Segall flirts with a whole range of emotions and personality traits - which is in part what makes him such an interesting and relatable performer.
“The album is a symbiotic mix of the messy and the crisp”
The albums then takes a disco funk detour into a cover of Hot Chocolate’s 1978 track ‘Every 1’s a Winner’. The band act as tutors, demonstrating a masterclass in distorted fuzz riffs, enlisting the help of actor and long-time friend Fred Armisen on percussion. ‘Despoiler of Cadaver’ catches the wave and continues riding the bubbling juicy funk for all its worth. The conversation over this song is indulgently sexy, weird and sinister, in the best kind of way possible.
‘When Mommy Kills You’ leaves you chasing the thread of the album as chords and distortion continue to bewilderingly jump around, never leaving you quite enough time to grasp the song, while the high backing vocals taunt you. ‘My Lady’s On Fire’ treads on some common ground, drawing influence from T. Rex and shows off Ty’s songwriting skills, resulting in an optimistic and lively but equally sad song. The melodies of the song get under your skin, and the hornlines on top blow them throughout, scattering and irrevocably entwining them with you. This Marc Bolan influence is made clearer on ‘The Main Pretender,’ which throws a sax into the mix, heavily referencing T. Rex’s 1973 LP Tanx. It’s no wonder Segall released a cover album of their material – 2015’s Ty Rex.
No one is ready for what comes next. ‘Meaning’ kicks up some percussive bangs and guitar screeches before charging head first into a fem-punk distortion onslaught dragging you along in the dirt and wake of its carnage. Ty Segall’s wife Denée shouts “I see fear in freedom!” while Ty steers the bull around the pen and right out the fucking gates. Abruptly, the band slides to the other end of the spectrum with ‘Cry Cry Cry,’ a Beatles-esque ballad with tropical swinging psychedelic twangs.
“Ty Segall is a great example of a true genius who effortlessly employs the DIY experimental attitude associated with modern garage rock”
Freedom’s Goblin is truly released at this point; the band’s guitarists battle doom riffs on ‘She’ and spiral into yet more sax-infused madness, this time going full psychobilly on ‘Talkin 3’. Finally, instead of fading out, the band throw down ‘And, Goodnight’, a sprawling twelve minute electrified cover of their surreal 2013 single ‘Sleeper’. The album had already blown my mind and this song serves as the perfect head-fuck into a comedown.
The album is a symbiotic mix of the beautifully messy and the overpoweringly crisp, owed to the outstanding nature of anything Steve Albini touches. Ty Segall is a great example of a true genius who effortlessly employs the DIY experimental attitude associated with modern garage rock. Despite the album spanning 19 songs and clocking in at an hour and fifteen minutes, Freedom’s Goblin doesn’t feel drawn out in the slightest, and leaves the listener with a taste for more that only Segall can satisfy – and I have no doubt he will.
Artist: Ty Segall. Label: Drag City. Top Tracks: Despoiler of Cadaver; My Lady’s On Fire; And, Goodnight. For Fans Of: Thee Oh Sees, Black Lips. 75 minutes