Ty Segall: Manipulator

Published on September 15th, 2014

Prolific. With that one word sentence I have satisfied the requirement of its mention in any piece written about Ty Segall. While the speed at which Segall writes and records is impressive, the attention paid to it can distract from the fact that Segall’s output would be just as remarkable if it took twice or three times as long to create. Segall’s lastest album, Manipuator, which had a lengthy for him 14 month incubation period and even features arranged strings, feels primed to become Ty Segall’s Rosetta Stone; a record that serves as a point of entrance into Segall by tying together his earlier catalog as well as future sounds.

Urgent organs are stitched together by supersized guitar arpeggios as Segall’s sneered call of “manipulator” is buffered by background coo’s on the titular opening track. You can sense Segall stepping out of the garage and into the arena. This is a transformation that feels complete on “The Singer” when Segall launches his falsetto amidst skyscraping strings. Segall also tries his hand at SoCal stadium rock with the Red Hot Chili Peppers pseudo B-side, “Mister Main”, whose circular guitar riff alternates between lulling and surprising. The music steps back into the garage on the character sketch of the smartphoned “Susie Thumb”, which sneaks in some of Ty’s most insightful lyrics ever, before exploring Neil Young-esque folk rock on cuts like album closer “Stick Around”. Manipulator throws a White Album amount of styles at the wall.

Ty Segall is steel wool. He uses friction, energy, and grit to smooth you over. The majority of songs on “Manipulator” aren’t showstoppers poised to change your outlook on life, but when you come across the perfect throttle of “Tall Man Skinny Lady” you realize that whether with tempo or release dates, Ty Segall isn’t so much a speedster as much as he a master of pace.

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