Ty Segall, “Freedom’s Goblin”

Ty Segall
Freedom’s Goblin
DRAG CITY
8/10

There’s a very weird thing that happens when a rock musician professes their passion for a genre generally incompatible with their discography, such as that time the spectral presence behind Interpol’s mic, Paul Banks, released his debut hip-hop mixtape (important reminder: it was called Everybody on My Dick Like They Supposed to Be). Fans of both Banks and featured guest El-P were incredulous upon learning that the two figures shared a mutual respect, let alone existed in the same universe (El—himself a producer of a largely unsung jazz record—later featured Banks on his Cancer 4 Cure album). It’s considered a pretty bold move every time a musician writes music that lands outside of their listeners’ comfort zones—but isn’t it also a bit dehumanizing to reduce them to a single genre?

Ty Segall probably thinks so. Whatever the musical equivalent to The Movie Brats is, Segall has proven himself Scorsesean among his peers, effortlessly morphing from T. Rex to Sabbath over the course of mere months with the one-two punch of Ty Rex II and Fuzz’s debut back in 2013. Repenting for half a decade of thirty-minute records drenched in garden-variety scuzz, Freedom’s Goblin is unapologetic in its kind of just being a loosely curated playlist of fully-developed ideas. It resembles a best-of collection spanning unreleased tracks from Segall’s recent output—and America’s entire musical output of the 1970s—not just in the fact that twenty minutes of it has already been spilled onto the blogosphere as singles, but also in each track’s distinguishable personality.

From the rehashed Sleeper title track closing out the album (rechristened “And, Goodnight”), to the contributions from Ty Segall’s Freedom Band, to Emotional Mugger’s spooky baby motif recycled for “When Mommy Kills You” (an aborted theme to Nic Cage’s latest coked-out feature?), most of Freedom’s Goblin feels pretty familiar to late-Segall’s audience—it’s the tracks’ cohabitation which may throw listeners off.

Transitioning from canine-inspired dad rock on opener “Fanny Dog” to twelve minutes of whacked-out riffs on “And, Goodnight” over its behemoth seventy-five-minute runtime, Goblin is far from linear, featuring detours from Hot Chocolate (“Every 1’s a Winner”: a cover recognizable even to those unaware the group existed outside of “You Sexy Thing”), Orbison (“Cry Cry Cry”: regrettably not an ode to the recent Wolf Parade reunion), and some sort of play on “On Top of Old Smokey” (“The Last Waltz”: more so a macabre modernization of Romeo and Juliet than an ode to The Band).

Yet for fans of Segall’s early work there’s still plenty of carnage throughout (the femme fatale of “Meaning,” the continental riffs of “She”), though it’s mostly concentrated in the album’s final act. Kicking into full gear when it nears the one-hour mark, it’s all downhill from the sax freakout called “Talkin 3.” In fact, with the succeeding “The Main Pretender,” the sound borders on a hip-hop beat worthy of the Banks in Banks & Steelz himself. And just when you thought you could pigeonhole Ty Segall into just one entire decade of music.

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