Album Review: Ty Segall – Manipulator

by J. Lawrence King on September 17, 2014

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Rating: Silver

It’s been two weeks but the drug rug of “Manipulator” is still a hidden metaphor. Deeper and denser, though rarely as listenable as before, Segall deflects his past while finding solace in the past. “Tall Man Skinny Lady” is as much T. Rex as it is T. Segall: falsetto hooks and acoustic guitars harkening back to “Sleeper” but catchier. Ty has never been as lyrical as King Tuff or Mikal Cronin: “I can hear the sound/ When my love’s around/ Whistling the trees/ It sits inside the breezes” but that has never been the point with Segall. From the very beginning on “Ty Segall” all the way through the eponymous “Twins,” Segall has made his mark in the ephemeral. His songs, like a sugar rush, hit and dissipate but “Manipulator” is something more permanent.

The guitar solo has never really been a part of Ty’s repertoire. His songs usually lack the foresight to carry such a thought to such a conclusion. Even Moothart’s solos in Fuzz lack any real sense of direction, but on “Feel” Ty takes a stab at guitar god status and it comes off not only as a success but as perhaps the best song in his ever growing oeuvre.

“Connection Man,” with it’s synth heavy bass, feels like it was directly influenced by the garage rock luminary John Dwyer. “I’m the faker with the other name/ on the paper, riding on the fame,” Segall sings on “The Faker” and this seems to be as relevant a statement about Segall’s musical ambitions as any on the record. He’s never been a musical innovator but one could argue that David Bowie wasn’t a musical innovator either but an artist who could take all the music around him and before him and use that to create a musical persona that he played out on stage. Ty’s artistry is in wearing his influences on his sleeve. He’s continued to be prolific through his short but prodigious career by embracing his influences, understanding that in this internet age theres nothing more personal than to wear your influences on your sleeve.

“Manipulator” is both the heaviest album and most dynamic album that Ty Segall has put out to date. The fuzz laden guitars from “The Crawler” are heavier than anything from “Slaughterhouse” but he’s still never far from his “Sleeper” days with songs like “Mister Main” or “The Clock.” This may not be the watershed moment for Ty’s career that us Segall fans were hoping for but its definitely the most thoughtful and coherent album that Ty Segall has released and worth the 14 month wait.

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