Release Date: Jan 26, 2018
Record label: Drag City
If Ty Segall ever thinks about taking a breather from putting out music, now would be a good time to do it. Not because he sounds tired or bored or out of ideas. On the contrary: His new album Freedom’s Goblin deserves some time to stand on its own—to be fully absorbed by us mere mortals —before the next wave of Segall’s music rolls in on a raft of 7” records, collaborations, short-run cassettes and stray-track collections. Freedom’s Goblin is that good. And it’s that much.
The life and times of garage-rock kingpin Ty Segall have brought the self-made, one-man show to the forefront of indie rock. As each year passes, Segall’s work seems to only become bigger and bolder. On his second self-titled full length album — and one of last year’s most underrated LPs — Ty Segall, he sounded more energetic and focused than ever before.
Near the end of last year, Ty Segall put a bunch of new songs out online, which is a bit like saying water is wet. But even for a guy who has spent the last decade setting the pace for indie-rock prolificacy, releasing 20 albums and more than 30 singles and EPs, these tracks stood out. They sounded like strange one-off experiments, from the heaving hardcore of “Meaning” (featuring lead shrieking from Segall’s wife Denée) to a straight-up cover of Hot Chocolate’s 1978 disco warhorse “Every 1’s a Winner” (with guest percussion from Fred Armisen to boot).
Despite 10 solo albums in as many years and endless side projects, cult garage rocker Ty Segall still isn’t quite sure about being labelled “prolific”. Speaking to Stereogum, Segall admitted that the description was once a cause for irritation, saying, “I used to [get annoyed]. I honestly used to very much.” Now, Segall has begrudgingly come to recognise the physical barriers and release patterns of the current musical landscape – but these limits are nowhere to be found on his latest release, ‘Freedom’s Goblin’.
Barely a paragraph has been written about Ty Segall that does not include at least a nod or a wink to the word ‘prolific’. It’s true, his turnover is eye-watering: depending on your online reference site of choice, Freedom's Goblin is around or above his twenty-fifth significant record release in a decade, under one moniker or another. In recent years, the full length albums released simply under his own name have come to represent one of the countless facets of Ty’s rockstar persona, be it the sprawling indulgence of 2014’s Manipulator or the sensitive melancholy of 2017’s self-titled release.
Anyone who has tracked Ty Segall's creative evolution since he launched his solo career in 2008 has probably noticed that new elements regularly float into his eclectic musical worldview, but very little ever entirely goes away. His canvas has gotten broader and his color palette has expanded at each turn, and 2018's Freedom's Goblin finds him putting practically all of it to work. Freedom's Goblin is a sprawling and ambitious album, packing 19 songs into 75 minutes, and while its sheer size is impressive, what really sets it apart is the wealth of ideas springing forward in every track, as well as the strength of the execution.
Californian king of the riff Ty Segall, now 30 and married, has grown in more ways than one. Freedom's Goblin is album number 10 for Segall — not counting his other projects Fuzz, Ty Segall Band and GØGGS — and plays like an overarching culmination of all his various forms. It's all here — the punk crunch of his earlier days (Melted and Goodbye Bread), the sweet softness of Sleeper, the borderline daft moments found on Emotional Mugger and his other foray into more elaborate songwriting and cleaner production, Manipulator. Freedom's Goblin gets off to a booming start from the first snare hit with "Fanny Dog," a power punch ode to his canine companion.
Ty Segall may have slowed down, but he hasn’t become any less prolific. Now, instead of releasing multiple records a year spanning scorching garage rock, Sabbath-style riffing and acoustic folk, he can just distill it all into one mammoth 74-minute album. You could boil Freedom’s Goblin down to “rock,” but the 19 songs offer 19 flavours of the genre – a testament to how many delicious recipes you can still make out of vocals, guitar, bass and drums (and, in this case, a dollop of horns).
The Lowdown: On his latest (and longest) record, indefatigable rock-god-in-waiting Ty Segall beefs up his sound with a brass section while giving himself over to a bout of anything-goes creativity that hits way more than it misses. The Good: The brass, which adds showband strength to power pop numbers like “Fanny Dog” and “Alta” or lived-in texture to standout “My Lady’s on Fire”. It also sounds like Segall’s dug deeper than ever into his record collection; the no-wave skronk of “The Main Pretender” recalls James Chance and the Contortions while “When Mommy Kills You” marries Segall’s rock brawn with the oversaturated weirdness of the Olivia Tremor Control and other denizens of the Elephant 6 Collective.
The release of Freedom’s Goblin marks the third consecutive January in which Ty Segall has released a new studio album. He has long been compared to The Beatles in terms of his melodies and simplistic lyrics, and his yearly album releases are another way in which he can be comfortably compared to the Fab Four. However, whereas The Beatles gave up touring midway through their career to focus on writing and recording, Segall still tours pretty much non-stop, making you wonder when and how he has the time to write new songs, get in the studio to record them and then go through the rigmarole of releasing the damn things – but year after year, he does it.
By this point, you’re either into Ty Segall or you’re not. Now with ten solo LPs, plus at least another ten as part of a constant stream of side projects and collaborations (all in not much more than a decade), the prolific garage rocker (who is still, let it be noted, only 30) has become a fully-fledged cult hero. Within this never-ending cycle of new material, there is, of course, a spectrum.
Plenty of musicians draw inspiration from the past, but Ty Segall takes being a throwback to a whole new level. Not content to merely incorporate the sound of '60s rock into his psych-tinged garage-punk, Segall has also internalized the era's work ethic, often churning out several records a year amid a constant flow of side projects. A decade into his career, Segall has tried his hand at another classic rock standby: the anything-goes double album.
Ty Segall is only 30, but it feels like he’s already in the retrospective, revisiting-past-glories phase of his short but prolific career. In addition to dozens of side projects, singles and EPs that have been pouring out of Segall HQ in California since 2008, “Freedom’s Goblin” (Drag City) arrives as the singer’s 10th solo album. It plays like a 19-song, 75-minute tour of Segall’s record collection, indulging in everything from wispy folk to speed metal, with shots of psychedelia, garage and even disco.