San Francisco’s Ty Segall — alum of The Epsilons — has returned with another full length! The album titled Melted runs counter to the main tropes of many of today’s garage rock bands. The songs do not celebrate sloppiness or speed, and the production’s low-fi scuzz comes across as an aesthetic decision rather than simply the product of limited access to “better” recording equipment, or as a means to add character to otherwise bland songs.
Instead, Melted is a fully realized album, start-to-finish, more in the spirit of the Microphones than Jay Reatard. Ty doesn’t seem as concerned with turning out the perfect riff or chord progression (though there are plenty of those) as he does with thoughtful production, exploring a range of guitar tones, drum textures, vocal mixes and arrangements to transform simple songs into intricate, psychedelic garage-punk that draws on influences from the Beatles and T-Rex to the Ramones and Nirvana.
The album creeps to a start with the lethargic strumming of a clean guitar and Segall’s sleepy croon accompanied by a harmony of “oohs.” It’s a kind of “calm before the storm,” because after a few repetitions a squeal of feedback signals the entrance of a deep, sludgy bass line and pounding drums. On the ensuing verses Segall’s vocal shifts to a Jack White snarl and the song concludes with a synth that sounds like a broken European ambulance.
On the second track, “Ceasar,” things change gears: acoustic guitar, muffled bass and lone snare drum that sounds like a knock on the door. During the song’s crescendo Ty’s vocals — think Joey Ramone doing a Marc Bolan impression — disintegrate into digital fuzz and we’re treated to a plunking, Kinks-eque guitar solo.
Another highlight is “Girlfriend” where the guitar’s crunchy reverb and the compressed drum thuds serve as back drop to a catchy double tracked vocal and hand claps a-la 60s Phil Spector.
The album’s sixth song, “Mike D’s Coke,” sounds like a hallucinated Coca-Cola commercial set to a mechanized drum beat. The track opens with an echoing repetition of the lyric “Drink Coca-Cola…Drink Coca-Cola with me,” (basically the only lyric in the song) and ends with a hypnotic guitar line that disappears just as it hits its stride. It is the kind of non-song that borders on the superfluous, but, in the context of Melted’s other fully realized songs, works as kind of a weird side-show to the main attraction.
According to the Goner Records website this record plays best at maximum volume. However, I encourage the repeat listener to take Melted for a spin on a solid pair of headphones to soak up all its production quirks. Segall’s blend of acoustic and electric guitars, piano, synth, distortion and delicate croons make Melted a rare treat in a genre that often falls into the trap of a one-size-fits all formula of fast, sloppy fuzz.
RIYL: The Oblivions, Coachwhips, T-Rex
For more on Ty Segall check out his BTR Artist of the Week profile HERE.
– Thomas Seely