Ty Segall – Sleeper
Release Date: August 20, 2013
How often must the prolific nature of an artist be remarked on before it becomes nothing more than a placeholder? In most cases, such talk can usually be dismissed as hot air to meet a word count, but in the case of wunderkind Ty Segall, it is impossible to ignore his breakneck pace. He’s put out more records in the last few years than I can easily keep track of, operating under a number of names and collaborating with friends and peers like Mikal Cronin and White Fence often. The most truly remarkable thing about his ceaseless productivity is that there has not been a dip of quality or foray into repetition in any meaningful way on any of those records. Segall has set himself apart from his peers by not only proving himself to be teeming with enthusiasm and creative, inspired ideas but also by executing those traits with startling success. Sleeper, which was released to the press as “the only Ty Segall release in 2013” was shortly followed by the announcement of the debut album from his new project Fuzz to come out in just a few months.
Sleeper is a step or six away from the grime and sludge that was the sole “constant” thread in Segall’s work and that returns onthe record from Fuzz. In it’s place are acoustic psychedlia-laced folk songs. That he chose to make an album in this mold should not come as a surprise, given Twins and Hair both seemed on the verge of hallucinogenic exhaustion, ready to collapse into bed to recuperate. And Sleeper does exactly that, content to stare at the dust drift in the sunlight from the windows for nearly its entire duration. But it would seem that Segall is not there from a much needed respite from unleashing his boundless kinetic energy, but is instead leaving himself to rot in bed as a way of avoiding the emotional duress the world foisted upon him. His gaze may have settled on the window, but his eyes are glazed and his mind is elsewhere.
What has left this avatar of garage rock’s virility prostrate and preoccupied? None other than his mother, the subject of “Crazy,” where Segall’s vocals pitch higher and higher as he grows more distressed with her actions. Its one of the only moments on the record when he seems nearly roused from his recline, but it is not the welcome return to plugged in guitar fuzz that “The Man Man” is. You feel fleeting yet stabbing pangs of sympathy for him, even as the lyrics do little to elaborate on the situation. The most telling part of the song is the chorus, where he seems to heap praise on his recently deceased stepfather: “He’s here, he’s still here, though she is crazy.” The thankfulness is tinged with the regret both for the loss of his father and the only tether keeping him in contact with his mother. And where does Segall pine for on “The West”? The frontier was long ago settled, as the San Fransisco native is well aware; in its place he is looking for his father’s house. While most American youth, particularly those of the era that gives Sleeper its psychedelic bent, head west for emancipation, Segall sees his stepfather as an escape from his mother. Whatever anger and resentment Segall holds for his mother is given form through the mold that his intense grief over his stepfathers passing created.
In fact, the entire record seems to be cast in the shadow of his father even when the songs make no mention of him - “Sleeper” may have been originally written about Segall’s girlfriend, but it could as easily be read as a communique meant for his father in the afterlife. With a strong emotional, thematic thread throughout Sleeper, Segall does well to keep himself from deviating too far or often from a simple acoustic guitar. Warping the strings and playing with the sounds as he does on the elongated chords of “6th Street” is about as chaotic as the record gets, a welcome rarity for his discography.
Segall has described Sleeper as a purge, which is a quietly thrilling prospect for Fuzz’s debut. Distilling his emotions and ideas into a potent concentrate of psych-folk works excellently, but Segall remains at his best either pounding the kit or punishing his strings. Though Ty Segall often seems like he makes records at inhuman paces, Sleeper indulges his very human impulse for a good wallow, and proves that there’s more to the man than the distorted ripping guitars would make you believe.
Definitely a different album for him, in a good way though. Surprised he's not bigger on this site.
It's weird that I (think) this is the first review he's gotten from us. It wouldn't be much of a stretch for him to be a favorite. But lots of bands that have indie/p4k crossover that might otherwise be lavished with attention here don't for whatever reason...like Wavves, for instance.