Ty Segall‘s 2011 singles compilation collected material he recorded and released between 2007 and 2010—25 loose ends from his “scrappy upstart” beginnings. His songs weren’t especially complex, but they hit their marks and made an impact. His crazed performances were undeniable. Sure, the recording quality was pretty crummy, but you could say the same of the Oblivians‘ and Reatards‘ early records (and Segall’s demos stand up alongside Soul Food and Teenage Hate). It was easy to root for him on those early outings—the fresh-faced punk screamer unleashing his inner demon and making songs promising enough to make you wonder where he’d go next.
His trajectory from there—following Melted in 2010—isn’t as easily summarized. After signing to Drag City, he generally moved in a singer/songwriter direction, but still kept releasing one-off rippers on labels like Castle Face, Goner, and Permanent. And now, his prodigious output is what he’s best known for: Segall has released a lot of music, heaps of stuff, to the point where it’s hard to keep track of it all, and he’s refused to conform to a single style or aesthetic. Sometimes, he’ll sing in a detached croon (“Fine”) and trigger full-on folk nostalgia with his acoustic rambles (“Gold on the Shore”, “The West”). Elsewhere, he transforms into Mr. Hyde for blasts of vicious, blistering rock’n’roll (Slaughterhouse). So when presented with a compilation of singles from his past four years, the first question is which version of Segall will get top billing: the lizard-brained Kiss/Black Sabbath apostle or the sentimental balladeer.
Thankfully, $INGLE$ 2‘s 12 songs avoid pigeonholing. Segall brings the fuzz and fury, but the aggression is cut with tracks like “Falling Hair” and “Children of Paul”, the plaintive Goodbye Bread era B-sides. If his previous singles compilation showed an artist asserting his garage punk dominance, this is the teenaged wrecker all grown up and ready to prove that he’s capable of much more.
For a collection of odds and ends, $INGLE$ 2 works remarkably well as an album. To my ear, it’s sequenced better than Twins or Manipulator, which makes some sense: the tracks are presented in chronological order, which makes for a natural narrative, each of his short-lived modes transitioning into his next. It also helps that there’s no filler to speak of—any A-sides already found on Drag City albums have been omitted in favor of B-sides and rarities. The only track that previously appeared on an album is “Hand Glams”, but the single version is another beast entirely, and, with the addition of vocal harmonies and a psychedelic warble, a far more interesting one at that.
It’s almost hard to believe that Segall’s scraps are this strong—take “For Those Who Weep”, a Twins era B-side that ranks as one of the best songs he’s written. It was a sign of things to come from Sleeper—warm acoustic material that sounds classic, the sort of thing you could have seen the Byrds covering. On the other end of the spectrum, Segall delivers “Fucked Up Motherfucker”, which, with its vicious churn and Steve Mackay-style sax, deserves a place in the spotlight instead of getting lost in the shuffle as one-twelfth of Castle Face’s Group Flex II book. Segall even breaks the trend of covers that feel like hollow throwaways. (The low point of Slaughterhouse was the Segall Band’s version of Captain Beefheart’s “Diddy Wah Diddy”.) His ramped up version of the Velvet Underground and Nico’s “Femme Fatale” excels in this comp’s context, as does his stomping rendition of the Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red”. The album ends on a high note with “Pettin the Dog”, a predictably vicious GG Allin cover (made G-rated for WFMU, with a more radio-friendly title).
Segall’s most recent album, Manipulator, was at times a frustrating listen. It was quite good on a song for song basis, but it often felt safe, and Segall’s mix of thrilling and somber was muddied. All of which explains why this compilation is so welcome. In addition to rounding up odds and ends, it’s an important LP in its own right. Don’t be fooled by how tacky the two dollar signs look in that album title: $INGLE$ 2 is the best Ty Segall album that got released in 2014.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1HopGfs