2 Sept 2014

Album Review: Ty Segall "Manipulator"

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Maybe I'm getting old, but I was a bit of a late convert to Ty Segall's cause, requiring the stripped back intimacy of his last album, "Sleeper" , to make a connection. With this in mind, I was by no means certain that I'd be able to embrace "Manipulator", a double album worth of excess from an artist who's albums generally linger around the half hour mark.

"Manipulator" has obviously been put together with some care. It's not unusual for Segall to be involved in three or four released projects a year, but he's spent the better part of a year working on this largely on his own, with the Ty Segall Band only appearing on one track - the rest is pretty much all him.

Only Ty himself could tell us whether this new, patient approach is a case of him wanting to prove to himself that he can work in this fashion, or whether it's simply a case of him being smart enough to realise that he has a strong enough set of songs here to make an album above and beyond anything he's done before. My money is on the latter.

"Manipulator" is consistently great. Segall has advanced all of the melodic strengths found on "Sleeper" and added plenty of the noisy garage glam riffery that "Sleeper"s detractors bemoaned the lack of on that particular record. The two sides of the coin sound great together and that fact that he's managed to combine the two without compromising either ideal is impressive.

The main sign that he's looking to stretch himself comes in the form of a classy string section which is occasionally called upon without a trace of saccharine, adding a touch of "Forever Changes" to "The Clock" and "Stick Around", and a big bag of T.Rex to the irresistible "The Singer". That glam influence is writ large over "Manipulator". I hear more "The Width of a Circle" here than I do "Funhouse", but whoever the inputs come from, the outputs are always unmistakeably in Segall's increasingly distinctive voice.

They're saying it's his best set yet, and who am I to argue? It's certainly got the hooks, as well as the depth and easy-to-digest influences to qualify as a great rock record, and to pull in the more casual listeners that his increased exposure is inviting.

A great album that's getting better with every play - ask me again in a month and I bet I'll tell you it's even better than I currently think it is.

"Manipulator" is available on CD, vinyl, , digital, and cassette. Follow the links to purchase.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely you're not getting old. Ty is finally delivering consistently on 2 records in a row which -as you said- look like the two sides of a coin, just like The Man Who Sold The World and Hunky Dory were. In any case, Ty doesn't sound derivative at all. He's able to bring in a Sgt Pepper taste to the mix in the great opener but -as pointed here- pay homage to Forever Changes as well, in a nearly sci-fi outcome (neither Bowie or Marc Bolan did that). To make this dish even more tasty, Ty mananages to recreate effectively the bluesy innocence of Who circa 69-71 in a couple of (other) strong songs here. A real winner, thanks!