I have to be completely honest here, okay? I’ve never been much of a fan of this guy called Ty Segall. Yeah, I know this is a shocking revelation to the world at large, but I felt I needed to get that out in the open before I went any further with this review. I will say that I’ve always admired the guy and his rather prolific output. If he’s not putting out something under his own name then he’s putting something out with one of his West Coast garage/psych brethren. While everyone around me hailed Segall as the second coming of rock n’ roll, I responded with a less than enthusiastic “meh.” I bought last year’s Sleeper and found it to be an earnest little record that didn’t feel the need to hide behind piles of hiss and feedback(not that I have anything against hiss and feedback.) I think with me it’s always been this feeling that Segall was hiding behind the noise instead of wielding it as one of his many weapons in his rock n’ roll arsenal. Well, I am here to admit dear readers that I was dead wrong about the 26 year-old wunderkind from Orange County and his newest masterpiece, the double album Manipulator, is proof of just how wrong I was.
Listening to albums like Melted, Goodbye Bread, and Twins you get the feeling Ty has listened to his fair share of late-60s psych, garage, and a healthy dose of Blue Cheer, Stooges, and Black Sabbath, so when you throw on Manipulator for the first time you’re instantly thrown off by the cleaned up production and locked-in grooves. The needle in the red levels of ear bleeding volume are replaced with Hunky Dory-era Bowie glam. The acoustic guitar almost seems attached to the drums as each strum accents the snare on “Tall Man Skinny Lady”. It has a “Queen Bitch” vibe with Segall sporting a hell of a falsetto. I have to say right here that the drums on this album sound incredible. The extra time Segall took to make this record shows wonderfully in the engineering. The drums and bass work together on this album like they never have previously. Manipulator doesn’t lose any of Ty Segall’s DIY-approach to album making, but there’s a clarity here that’s never been present before. At times it comes off as the Stooges making The White Album. “The Singer” starts out like an acoustic ballad and then morphs into a T. Rex strut. “Mister Main” and “Green Belly” sport some great rhythm as the drums and bass lock in together and never let up. There’s still plenty of face-melting guitar, like on the blistering “The Connection Man” and the opening build-up of “The Faker” before it rolls through the speakers with a rock n’ roll chug. And I dare you not to pump your fists to “The Crawler”. It’s like an unholy union of Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath run through the Bay area speed metal scene. Face melting, man. Manipulator takes everything Segall has dabbled in previously and churns it out into this proto glam/psych/metal sound that’s just about perfect.
If Ty Segall hasn’t already released his breakthrough album, I believe he just has with Manipulator. And as someone who never bought into the hype of Mr. Segall before, I’m here to say I’m buying now. I’m a believer in this Orange County wunderkind.
8.6 out of 10