Ty Segall – Manipulator

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Grade: A

This time around, Ty Segall decided to slow down and actually take some time to make a record. So instead of following his usual break-neck speed routine, Segall spent almost a year writing and recording Manipulator, and of course it paid off. The album is by far his most polished and satisfyingly vivacious work to date.

Don’t mistake the idea of polished to mean Segall’s latest is soft, or conservatively constructed. There’s still plenty of erratic shift in style and sound in almost every song on there, and the number of surprise riffs featured are enough to make you feel like a kid at Christmas.

Manipulator, which shuffles its way through British Invasion rock to the early days of heavy metal and glittery glam, is also nice and hook-heavy, leaving its catchy tunes bopping around in your mind for days.

This is especially true for its title track, which Segall just released an interactive video for this week. Directed by Matt Yoka, who Segall met while the two were freshmen at the University of California, “Manipulator” allows its viewers to assemble Segall’s surroundings to their liking as the video plays out. While watching you can even change the channel on the TV in the singer’s bedroom, and the fact that Timothy Leary is an option on the screen further perpetuates the psychedelic nature of the vibrant video.

There’s also “The Faker”, an assuredly rockin’ number that almost hints at early Queens of the Stone Age. And don’t skip the sonic charm of “It’s Over” and “Susie Thumb”, both featuring strong instrument breaks made up of the sexiest in drum vs. guitar battles.

On the more mellow side is the album’s closer, “Stick Around”, a track that feels a slight evolution from Segall’s last solo effort, the acoustic-driven Sleeper. The track is made up of precise riffage backed by piano, and lyrics such as “Well come on/come on down/yeah stick around/we are here/let’s make a sound/you know we gonna stick around”. Yes, yes you are, Segall. We couldn’t be happier for it.

It’s exciting to add this this jewel of an album to my always growing Segall collection, and it seems the doors are wide open for his next move. Maybe his extremely prolific personality will kick back in and we’ll get three or more greats from him in the next couple years. For now, I’ll just remain deeply content with the rewarding enormity of Manipulator.

In the meantime, watch below as Segall and his devoted backup band of Mikal Cronin (bass), Emily Rose Epstein (drums) and Charles Mootheart (guitar) slay “Feel” during their performance on Conan last month:

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