This is a fun and absorbing album, no doubt about it. For its 75 minute length, you’d hope that it either goes through lots of varying technical channels, or that it bashes you over the head with powerful execution of a single approach. It turns out that this work does both to a degree. Segall was wonderfully fluid in his patterns of instrumental features, seamlessly going between acoustic and electric guitar that delivered the same level of emotional attachment while altering dynamic levels and actual moods. While maintaining a core of obvious distinction and easiness, the sound then blossoms into an overwhelming, unrestrained force with lots of instrumental energy in most every song, especially towards the end. This energy comes so genuinely, thanks mostly to Segall’s multiple skills on the guitar, and to reflect the album title it displays a feeling of complete freedom. I wasn’t always a huge fan of the electric guitar being so melodic and focusing on single note deliveries for long periods, only because it sounded a bit too careful and together when the songs were ultimately growing into dense, uncontrollable entities. The guitar was still a huge loveable highlight, mostly in its simple amplification and gritty deliveries. Other highlights were the passionate vocal harmonies and the occasional uses of brass. For the most part, the straightforward rock n’ roll timbre was purely awesome, fully reminiscent of its heyday in using simplicity to augment basic fun emotions. For the music to live in this blank, carefree, unbinding world and still be melodically pleasing takes the work of a truly talented musician, which Segall has certainly showed that he is. Although melody is rather sparse in comparison to the attention that the texture changes and harmonic direction receive, most every line offers a grasping, interesting moment with good range and repeated licks worth remembering. Segall showed his true songwriting strength in his harmonic progressions. The harmonies ranged from being sweet and sensible in some of the less inspiring songs to nothing short of brilliant in great songs like “When Mommy Kills You” and “The Main Pretender”. The complexities that stemmed from using the Neapolitan, bVI, and strings of non-functional chords were quite enjoyable, but the way that simple I, IV, V, and bVII patterns eventually dominated the foundation became the real delight and what essentially gave this album real spirit and connection. My only negative about this work is the lull that I experienced in the middle from the songs “Cry Cry Cry” to “The Last Waltz”. I was actually very interested by that, seeing as a long 19-song album has the structure and consistency to put the few songs I didn’t find as spirited or thought provoking all in one place, which in turn left no real interruptions and allowed me to still appreciate and enjoy the flow. It shows that Segall really knew exactly what he was doing at every level. All the great long form albums in history seem to do this, and that makes this work another one. These four songs in the middle lacked engaging timbral development, and mostly had basic harmonic structures not infused with any real surprise or drive. Again, though, they weren’t at all disrupting. While I really did enjoy the album’s length overall, perhaps Segall may have included a bit too much material as evidenced by this lull in the middle. Was it an ego problem? I don’t know and I don’t care; I only want to talk about the music. Albums can be truly powerful when fully connected and congruent in terms of emotional intent or storytelling sameness. This album is a little too unfocused in that regard. However, that’s hardly a big deal. In fact, the lack of focus actually brings out Segall’s true musicality and gives this music the freedom to explore, push boundaries, and ultimately just jam. This album shows freedom in a very intelligent way, and there’s delight to be found in every song, even if only some are completely delightful from start to finish. It goes to show that long form, carefree exploration without throwing anything away can produce something more worthwhile than trying very hard to write the perfect succinct song. It may take a genius to do, though. If you love rock n’ roll, you’ll love Ty Segall’s latest creation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.