Double Take: Ty Segall’s ‘Freedom’s Goblin’ takes him past garage-rock sounds
Ty Segall finds himself exploring more genres than his typical garage-rock on his new album “Freedom’s Goblin.” Two Emerald Arts and Culture writers share their thoughts about Segall’s new album below.
Jordan Montero’s take:
So far, whenever Southern California-based rocker Ty Segall enlists the help of the versatile Freedom Band, the product is an unconfined ode to the sum of rock’s different parts. “Freedom’s Goblin” is no exception. Segall’s straight-forward garage rock of the past forks into punk rock, folk rock, psychedelic rock, indie rock, hard rock and even heavy metal at different moments throughout his new 19-track double-LP.
Segall featured The Freedom Band on his last album, 2017’s “Ty Segall,” where their chemistry was first made apparent — a chemistry that would grow into “Freedom’s Goblin’s” biggest draw. The potent drum kicks and stylish backing vocals remain strong while the dominant attraction, the fiery dual-guitar madness, causes each song to teem with vitality.
“Freedom’s Goblin” plays almost like it can’t quite make up its mind as to where to venture next in its enthusiastic perusal of rock, or in what manner to visit it in. The record’s indecisive nature is promptly stated. It begins with a crazed excitement inspired by Segall’s pet dog, Fanny. But then immediately after, we find a reserved Segall in the dreary “Rain,” only to rally once again to exuberant heights in “Every 1’s a Winner.”
Throughout the album, the style shifts in rock identity just as much as it does in mood. “Alta,” near the album’s middle, is a display of heavy metal while still maintaining some vulnerability in Segall’s vocals. The following track, “Meaning,” plays with an interesting drum overture before delving into its distorted, clenched-fisted punk. And “Cry Cry Cry,” the next track, puts an end to it all with its opening sentimental chord, initiating Segall’s folk endeavor.
While the guitar is unparalleled in attention, each conventional rock instrument present is played with ardor. Instrument solos live in almost every track, allowing Segall to display either his straightforward virtuosity or his near-outlandish musical personality, whichever mood the song lends itself to. And Segall and his accompaniment refrain from indulging in their own wavering voice; they use it sparsely to skim Segall’s sexual desires or troubled revelations.
Despite its near hour and a half run-time, “Freedom’s Goblin” remains entertaining the whole way through. By the time of its wonderful conclusion (“And, Goodnight”), it’s clear that the record is withholding no more of its identity — all was laid out for the listener. It seems almost routine by now for Ty Segall to put out another album every year, but “Freedom’s Goblin” is perhaps his most abounding yet.
Nic Castillon’s take:
“Freedom’s Goblin,” the latest album from the California-based recording artist Ty Segall, features an eclectic mix of inventive rock music — most of which deserves to be played loudly. On this record, Segall refuses to be pigeonholed, drawing from a wide variety of inspiration that includes psychedelic rock, glam rock, and even disco. Of course, Segall’s standard fuzz guitar can be heard all throughout this release, but some of the most interesting moments come when the artist pushes his music in new, artful directions.
On the opening track “Fanny Dog,” Segall takes full advantage of a horn section, adding an extravagant layer to his band’s typical garage rock sound. It’s immediately followed by the pensive ballad “Rain,” which begins with subtle piano and a brilliantly mixed drum set, just before blooming into another horn-backed chorus. By the time the third track comes along, a grooving cover of Hot Chocolate’s 1978 hit “Every 1’s A Winner,” it becomes clear that this record has no overarching themes. Instead, Segall seems perfectly content wandering into whatever musical style feels right in the moment.
This allows for tracks such as “When Mommy Kills You,” which features some Beatles-esque harmonies over a driving punk guitar. Segall’s dark humor also comes out on “The Last Waltz,” which tells the story of a man drinking himself to death over his dead wife, played over a beat in ¾ time. The back-to-back tracks “Talkin 3” and “The Main Pretender” both include chaotic saxophone parts — similar to something from the Contortions or the Lounge Lizards — which amplify the ever-present spontaneity in Segall’s music.
The six and a half minute “She” utilizes a heavy metal riff and features some beautifully self-indulgent guitar solos. If anybody else were to record something like this it would likely be laughable, but Ty Segall manages to make something great out of it.
And then there are tracks like “My Lady’s On Fire,” the songwriting of which lives up to one of Segall’s own musical heroes Marc Bolan. The spliced transition and slight tempo shift near the beginning make for one of the most satisfying moments on the record. At an hour and fifteen minutes, this is Ty Segall’s longest album by far. It may be a lot to take in for a first-time listener, but for those well-versed in this man’s music “Freedom’s Goblin” offers a lot to enjoy.
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