Ty Segall// Manipulator
Recommended Track: The Faker
Flashy and frenetic yet poised and self-possessed, Ty Segall delivers his most dynamic record to date with Manipulator. While one leg is firmly planted in his own legacy, the other waltzes through the age of Aquarius to ’77 punk with prowess and a pointed foot. Most likely inspired by the psych-tinged folk-rock and Visconti-made glam-jams of the 60s and 70s, Manipulator is a muscular 17 tracks that showcase Segall’s impressive range as a songwriter that was perhaps muted by seven years of slightly homogenous and genre-y garage-rock albums. While the lyrics speak to new-age concerns like fear of invasive technology and planetary influence, Manipulator’s modern footing with a vintage flair evokes a pleasantly strange timelessness that underscores the hour-long record in glitter-slicked pastiche.
Scaling organs bleat in the title track as the album opens with doubled-up, finger-licking guitar solos from Ty’s prodigious garage. Heavy-hitters like “It’s Over” and The Crawler are replete with the snarly vocals and barreling punk proclivity that led some friend of yours to play you a song off Melted once. Arena-ready rock like “Feel” and “The Faker” are interspersed with folky psychedelic numbers like “Green Belly” and “Tall Man Skinny Lady.” Manipulator summons the varied sounds of classic rock through a Donovan-esque croon and the ghostly fingers of dead rockstars. Glam reveries like “The Singer” and “The Clock” suggest a dreamy and galactic side to Manipulator with sweet-tempered harmonies and a string quartet, but those moments are brutally interrupted by the stomp of a fuzz pedal and a power-riff that snaps the song to circa Goodbye Bread.
Opting to record Manipulator without the help of his long-time band (including Mikal Cronin, guitarist Charlie Moothart and drummer Emily Epstein) Segall instead recorded all of the instruments himself. Jet-propulsive 4-chord hooks paired with the exotic percussion of a voo-doo drum circle are part of a vision that seems uncharacteristically thought out and specific for Ty Segall, just when we thought he had entered the realm of of “if it aint broke dont fix it.” Manipulator’s 14 month incubation was an unsuspecting surprise of contemporary garage-punk through a sparkly lens of classic rock that was well worth the wait.