Ty Segall - First Taste - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Ty Segall - First Taste

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2019-08-02
Ty Segall - First Taste
Ty Segall - First Taste

Over the years, I’ve found Ty Segall to be in a holding pattern. When first introduced in the late 2000s, his brand of fuzzy garage rock was invigorating. He harnessed psychedelics like the best 70s prog masters, and every release felt somewhat unpredictable. He kept this up for a good amount of time and churned so many instantly classic albums for the genre like Goodbye Bread, Twins, and especially Slaughterhouse, the full band effort from 2012 that included Mikal Cronin. But after that, Ty Segall albums went in a wave with highs and lows. For every Manipulator there was a Sleeper. And these low points aren’t necessarily bad albums - just not on par with his best work. 

First Taste is the follow-up to a relentlessly prolific 2018 for Segall - a collaboration with White Fence, a covers album, and Freedom’s Goblin all punctuated just how diverse Segall is. And with Drag City backing him, he can let his muses run wild. First Taste finds him changing up his style, something he does frequently, but in this realm, he pulls more from the yesteryear stylings of bands like King Crimson and Yes, prog giants that revolutionized psychedelic music. I’ve never truly felt that comparison until First Taste. On the opening track, “Taste” Segall launches an auditory attack with various instruments just slamming you repeatedly. It’s comforting to have him sound this jovial, it’s like he’s having fun again - something I’ve felt lacked in the last few releases. 

One of the main standouts for me on First Taste is the Shannon Lay-assisted “Ice Plant” that removes the typical Segall style and replaces it with this Kinks-ian type acapella balladry. It’s something we don’t hear too much from Segall, but it's refreshing and pulls from so many classic 70s influences like Paul McCartney’s Ram. It’s one of the best and most stripped-down songs in Segall’s repertoire. It’s riveting then, to hear him transition into one of those Crimson-esque onslaughts in "The Fall"  with horns and trampling snares, it has a big band sound that leads into an incredibly satisfying drum solo before returning to the visceral chorus. This Crimson feel is all over the record in sprints, like on the outro to "Self Esteem," it loops the audience into this trance. Segall’s in prime form on First Taste and feels reinvigorated here - an intensity that was only slightly felt on Freedom’s Goblin and Ty Segall. It feels culled from the early days of Segall’s output when he just slapped hard and found that warm center of his muse that lets him just cut loose. 

“The Arms” is another throwback early classic rock and would be right at home on Donovan’s Sunshine Superman with Segall’s lifting chorus, and the folky plucking of his guitar. He keeps this momentum with “I Sing Them,” and pulls to mind the Rolling Stones influence he’s been lauded with for years. But instead of sounding like a cheap rip-off, First Taste delivers what everyone loves about Segall, without the pitfalls others in the genre tend to fall prey to. Bands like Oh Sees, King Tuff and even his frequent collaborator White Fence, spin and spin in their wheelhouse and while they play with ambient noise sometimes, or even adjusting their vocal range, a majority of their rugged aesthetic stays the same. 

First Taste is one of the more complete records in Segall’s massive catalogue. He’s at home when he can cut loose and just pull whatever he wants from the past, and translate it into his own words. And while none of the albums he’s produced in the  2010s has legitimately been terrible, First Taste comes off as a reckoning of those albums. It drags them all together and assembles them into one of his tightest records to date. An album that front-to-back is hypnotically repeatable and continuously rewarding.   

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