Ty Segall - Freedom's Goblin

by Texacaliago Rating:9 Release Date:2018-01-26
Ty Segall - Freedom's Goblin
Ty Segall - Freedom's Goblin

After spending most of 2016 crawling around on stage in a demented baby-mask, Ty Segall spent the majority of 2017 getting back to basics touring the world with his “Freedom Band” in support of his self-titled album released last January.

Coming on the heels of a particularly peculiar and productive 2016, which included his brilliantly malevolent Emotional Mugger LP (and a really good GOGGS album), perhaps the most remarkable thing about Ty Segall’s 2017 was just how unremarkable it was on the whole. That’s not to say Segall’s self-titled album was sub-par really, but given his notoriously prolific and occasionally surprising nature, Ty's 2017 (with a tip of the hat to his Fried Shallots EP) left a little something to be desired for fans of his more eccentric tendencies given the relatively pedestrian nature of his material released last year.

Thankfully though, those aforementioned eccentric tendencies are back in spades with a few new wrinkles to boot on his markedly lengthy new album Freedom’s Goblin. Featuring a whopping 19 songs, Freedom’s Goblin is Segall’s most ambitious album to date in terms of quantity, but what’s more impressive is the consistently high quality and varied nature of the material found across its expansive 75 minute running time.

There’s a lot to unpack here, especially considering this is probably the most eclectic collection of songs Segall has ever assembled onto a single album. Freedom’s Goblin has a little bit of everything really, of course sporting Segall’s unique brand of crunchy and hooky psychedelic fuzz, along with a nice mix of respectably refined and melodic material (which results in some of Segall’s catchiest songs to date no less). But perhaps what’s most interesting is his newfound fondness for brass instruments and his occasional forays into funk, and how he manages to seamlessly incorporate those disparate sounds into his music in new and exciting ways.

Take for instance the album’s two opening tracks, both of which use those aforementioned brass instruments in very different (yet highly effective) ways. The opener “Fanny Dog” is a hard-driving yet breezy and good-natured ode to Segall’s beloved canine companion.  Featuring a rousing horn section and a popping accompanying piano, these instruments help accentuate the markedly affable quality of the track, making “Fanny Dog” a respectably accessible opener for what turns out to be a pretty diverse album stylistically. That diversity becomes more apparent over the next few songs, particularly on the following track “Rain”, which is where things start to get a bit more interesting. Contrasting sharply with the generally sunny nature of the opening track, “Rain” sounds like a weary strung-out procession through the streets of New Orleans at 4:00 in the morning. With its ample use of unruly mariachi-esque horns alternating with a somber and somewhat disquieting piano piece, it almost comes off like a goth-tinged “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”, which makes for pretty compelling listening overall.

Segall’s use of brass instruments appears fairly frequently throughout the remainder of the album, and in most every occasion, they only serve to complement the overall vibe and personality of the given song quite nicely. Whether they’re accentuating the outright pleasant nature of more refined tunes like “My Lady’s On Fire” (which sounds like the aural equivalent to waking up to a magnificent cup of coffee at a holiday resort with your significant other…after morning sex), or adding to the chaos of the acid-jazz flavored “Talking 3” (which finds Ty channeling his inner-Beefheart), Segall seems to understand how to best make use of his horn section to enhance the impact of his music.

And on the other end of the spectrum, we find Ty dabbling in funk, most notably on his pretty awesome (and kind of ballsy) cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s A Winner”. A classic song that few have dared to touch, Ty manages to do it justice by adding a healthy coating of his patented grimy fuzz to the mix, which makes the song sound less like a cover and more a product of his own twisted garage-rock genius. Segall keeps the funky vibes going on the following track “Despoiler of Cadaver”, which just happens to be one of the most interesting songs on the entire album. A delightfully warped little slice of retro psych-funk, “Despoiler of Cadaver” sounds like it could have been on Beck’s classic Midnite Vultures album with its wickedly groovy lo-fi production. Probably one of the most unique songs Segall has cooked up to date, and a very cool one at that.

On the more polished side of things, it’s also worth noting that several songs on Freedom’s Goblin find Segall really harnessing his melodic skills, often times with highly satisfying results. Along with the previously mentioned “Fanny Dog” and “My Lady’s On Fire”, songs like “Alta” and “You Say All the Nice Things” are probably the best examples of that. The former is a decidedly well-rounded tune with a memorable sing-along chorus that seems destined for heavy rotation in his live set, while the latter is a delightfully pristine-sounding piece of ear-candy cloaked in an aura of serenity.  When it comes to pure melodicism, it could be argued that Segall has never sounded better that he does on these tunes.

Last but certainly not least, it wouldn’t be a proper Ty Segall album without some full-fledged bangers in the mix, and fortunately Freedom’s Goblin delivers the goods on that front as well, most notably on another one of the standout tracks “The Main Pretender”. Recalling the same diseased brand of fuzz that characterized the production on Emotional Mugger, “The Main Pretender” certainly would have been right at home on that album, but considering it also sports a boisterous horn section at times, it fits in perfectly on Freedom’s Goblin, and only serves to heighten the eclectic personality of the album as a whole. The same could also be said of “When Mommy Kills You”, which playfully slashes and thrashes in the same vein with delightfully infectious results.

And speaking of infectious results, probably the most outright fun banger on the entire album comes on “Meaning”, which features an assist from Denee Segall (Ty’s wife) on vocals.  Starting out with some whacked-out Captain Beefheart-inspired noodling and tinkering, it suddenly launches head first into a pretty rad mid-tempo thrasher which simply compels one to bang your head with reckless abandon and move your body.  Simply put, it’s a fun one, but should you fancy further headbanging after “Meaning”, the 6+ minute acid-rock shredder “She” should definitely help get all that proverbial rage out of your system (another doozy of a jam)!

To round things out, Segall treats us to a 12 minute bluesy jam on the final track “And Goodnight”. Here Ty actually recycles the chorus from the title-track of his somewhat underrated Sleeper album in a Blue Cheer-inspired jam session that is overall a fairly satisfying way to end the wild ride of an album that Freedom’s Goblin is.

As mentioned prior, not only is Freedom’s Goblin Segall’s most ambitious album to date in terms of song quantity and running time, but it’s also probably his most eclectic album. Never before has Segall drawn from such a wide range of influences and styles, which is impressive in and of itself, but when you consider that practically every song here is really good, you start to realize how great of an album Freedom’s Goblin actually is. It may feel somewhat scattershot and daunting at first, but upon repeated listens you start to garner an appreciation for all the variety on display here. And it is that very variety that really keeps you on your toes and helps make Freedom’s Goblin such an engaging and highly entertaining listening experience from start to finish. The fact that Segall managed to cook up all these gems in the midst of a pretty hectic touring schedule the past year or so makes the high quality nature of these songs all the more remarkable, which is a further testament to Segall’s greatness as a musician.

It’s one thing to be a prolific, but it’s another thing entirely to do so with quality on such a consistent basis. If this decade in music has taught us anything, it’s that Ty Segall is capable of both, and Freedom’s Goblin is just the latest and greatest example of that.    

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars
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