I don’t think a musician has ever released as much work, in such a short time as Ty Segall without mainstream recognition and success but somehow he’s managed it. With the seemingly 50+ credits on that page alone, making Dave Grohl look part-time, I genuinely wonder when he sleeps. His latest solo release, Manipulator, is an ode to psych-hard-rock and the 60s and 70s in general, straying into Beatles and Zeppelin territory at times.
“Manipulator” opens on the entrancing organ line before showering your ears with beautiful guitar licks he pulls of effortlessly that immediately get stuck in your head. The sounds he pulls out and the grit he finishes on show that Segall is a force to be reckoned with. Don’t be fooled by the soft opening of “The Singer” its chorus is Beatles-esque, the verses equal parts soft and distorted, and its strings goosebump inducing. Its lone-guitarist style solo is unbelievably impressive and makes the choruses return even bigger.
“It’s Over” is the fire of fast and hard psych-rock, sounding like Tame Impala and Queens Of The Stone Age recorded together. Even though this means it’s not bringing anything new to the table, you’re rocking out too hard to care. The bass drive of “It’s Over” spills into “Feel” a track that beautifully pulls of the old “play a riff clean, and do the chorus distorted” trick, you hear it, you don’t care. Segall’s energy and amazing recording make this instantly feel like a song you’ve been jamming out to for years and it soars because of it. Once again, the solo’s are unbelievable and the drum section feels like a seance of John Bonham.
“The Faker” lets things chug a little more, drowning the recording in distortion, and while the track is a little more boring it’s still a great track nonetheless, given that even an amazing album sets a bar for itself. “Mister Main” has a guitar line I swear I’ve heard in a ton of commercials but can’t peg. Even though the track never really seems to go anywhere it crafts a great hook that I can only imagine will be sampled in the coming years endlessly.
“Susie Thumb” kicks things back into gear, and roars with energy, fully distorted and its sections never lose this energy. The solos are effortless and the song seems to be the thumbnail for hard-psych-rock and how close the two can get, easily one of the best tracks here. “Don’t You Want To Know (Sue)” opens like Beck’s latest effort but quickly picks up into folk-rock glory, reminiscent of the 70s.
“The Crawler” comes out roaring like the sequel to “Susie Thumb” but faster and with looser control of instruments, in a way that allows for endless fills and 2 second guitar licks. Once again nothing new but technically awesome and a song that I would pay top dollar to hear live. “The Feels” opens in similar fashion to “The Singer”‘s clean style before opening the gates of distortion to a song that feels like Tom Petty in verses and Black Sabbath and Iron Butterfly in its choruses’ dark grit. One of the more epic solos here proves the validity of guitar solos by Segall’s crafting and ability that makes it more a fundamental climax of the song than mandatory melody repeating or showing off.
The album closes on the sunset feel of “Stick Around” which goes from folky to epic 70s rock in seconds. Filled with licks and violin it’s an awe-inspiring song to listen to. It closes the album in the right mood and its final chorus breaks into a hit heavy descent that becomes a rather Vampire Weekend, prim and proper classical violin line.