Garage rock is made in mass quantities these days and rarely seems to prove itself worth spending precious listening time on. A genre that has simplicity at its core can easily be invaded by unimaginative imitators and become just another fad in the corporate pop machine. However, those with imagination, spontaneity, and a direct line of communication to the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll only triumph more in these circumstances, and on his album Melted, Ty Segall proves to be one of these folks.
Hailing from San Francisco, Segall’s quirkiness draws comparisons to West Coast psychedelic misfits of the past such as Skip Spence, Arthur Lee, and Captain Beefheart. The songs of Melted stylistically belong to the 1960s without a doubt, but this doesn’t get in the way of them carrying a certain youthful exuberance that many ’60s revivalist lack. Melted exists in the realm of the eternal now, fueled by an understanding of the immortal qualities contained in the realm of Nuggets.
Segall’s greatest strength is his songwriting. His songs have hooks, emotion, energy, and a plethora of unexpected twists and turns to give them appeal beyond the typical qualities of pop music. Segall is unpredictable without being incomprehensible and whimsical without sounding like a boring hippie. “Girlfriend,” which easily could be a traditional pop song, begins with fazed-out guitar distortion and nonsensical moaning. On the title track, vocals are soaked with reverb and echo, to the point where they are as noisy as the guitar feedback that mercilessly soaks the song while still maintaining a twisted sense of melody. And then there’s the twisted pop-surrealism of “Mike D’s Coke,” which sounds like Captain Beefheart writing a TV jingle.
This fractured sense of pop songwriting that owes its existence to lysergic madmen like Syd Barrett and Skip Spence is a tradition that is thankfully continued on Melted. By balancing insanity and song-craft with uninhibited energy, Ty Segall proves himself to be in tune with the reckless energy and subtle cleverness that has inspired great rock music for decades.
Ty Segall: www.myspace.com/tysegall