Ty Segall


Ty joins the growing list of surprise album alums of late, launching his first album in two years, Harmonizer, on an unsuspecting public last week. The gap saw no dearth of activity from the West Coast marauder — an album from Fuzz found its way out last year and Levitation sessions from both Fuzz and The Freedom Band wound up as part of the psych label’s Covid-term crowdless concert series. This, however, is the first that Segall has topped the marquee for an album and it’s nice to have him back at the wheel. The record is both an entrenchment into the psych-scorched guitar god aura he’s been gnawing at for a while and slight departure, relying on an influx of synths to slick the sound into dark-rainbow reveries.

The prog pummel of First Taste and Freedom’s Goblin seems to be waning. There’s less sax slather here, less tender moments left to ripen in the sun, and certainly less of an Eastern emphasis, pulling away from some of his more recent respites to focus on a proper gnash of metallic teeth. The bite comes down clean and crushing, though, with the bulk of Harmonizer feeling like an oil bath for the riff machine. The chrome precision of the guitars looms, glinting off of the afternoon sun with an imposing aura. There’s a bit of interference in the signal, but what’s coming through the coms is a blackened sun scorch to the speakers, as heavy as the Muggers were want to wander, but without the e.Coli curdle they let fester in their wares.

There’s a feeling of peeing down on the writhing masses with portions of Harmonizer. Something like “Waxman” shares the kind of acid-sick corrosion of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” It’s an apocalyptic record for apocalyptic times. “Whisper” plays with a slinking seethe, a kind of pleather-riffed, wide-eyed psychedelia that’s got grease in its veins and a dazed look in its eye. The title track has a narcotic dance to it, watching itself writhe from two feet away in an out-of-body daze. The hedonistic “Play” smolders before Ty’s partner Denee throws a few vapor-punk elbows on “Feel Good.” The record collapses between the grates of grime with its most disjointed offering, with the throwback thrum of “Changing Contours,” which seems like it might have found a place among First Taste’s off-axis earworms but didn’t materialize until years later. Some Segall records hitch themselves to divergent winds, leading to newer pastures, but this one seems more like a calcified crunch. Heaviness rises up to form a shield from the horrors, acid-strung riffs reflect the anger of the times, but there’s a feeling that this might have bubbled over with a bit more weird fury. I miss Cronin cutting loose on extraneous instruments. I miss the hive mind contortions of The Freedom Band in full regalia, but this one still comes to cut and draws blood where it can. I appreciate the scars it leaves behind.

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