Approaching 2012 as if it truly was the end of days, Ty Segall’s torrential pace the past ten months has placed the Bay Area garage rocker in an interesting position. After last year’s terrific solo record Goodbye Bread –his most approachable and commercially successful record to date – this year’s torrent of music has positioned Twins entirely apart from his previous work. In the same way that The Weeknd, Of Montreal and other artists who never temper their release schedules become lumped into this idea of “what have you done for me lately,” Ty Segall has in a lot of ways reset his entire career in 2012. And in doing so, he has managed to create his most brilliant and cohesive record to date.
It’s no secret that Segall’s range is the reason for his consistent excitement, and one that sets him apart from his contemporaries. His collaborative record with White Fence, Hair, bore the resemblance to classic psych rock and more traditional pop-rock influences. In working with his stage band on Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse, he took the energy and raucous nature of his live show and bottled it for consumption. And before that, on Goodbye Bread, Segall was at the peak of his solo songwriting, crafting some of his most nurtured, precise tracks yet.
Enter Twins, the final answer to why we should pay attention to Ty Segall three times a year. And while it certainly draws inspiration from his previous work, Twins feels like vintage Segall. Records like 2009’s Lemons and 2010’s Melted relied on a simple guitar hook and a catchy, screamable lyric. The no-nonsense thrill of his early hit “Girlfriend” is in high supply throughout the whole of Twins. Just imagine a sea full of sweaty crust punks yelling out, “thank god for the sinners” as Segall rips through the album’s lead track. The feverish pace of “You’re the Doctor” plays out like much of Segall’s live shows: it’s anxious and unruly. When Segall pronounces “there’s a problem in my brain,” it’s hard not to envy whatever problem he thinks there might be, his dedication and continued growth as an artist is unparalleled.
But when he pleads “Oh doctor won’t you tell me please/ Is it living inside of me?” at the outset of “Inside Your Heart”, it’s as if Segall is possessed by alien version of himself that’s depicted on the album’s cover. And though Segall’s sound is certainly anything but alien at this point, Twins contains some of his most nuanced material to date, working within the confines of his guitar’s sound but constantly tweaking expectations throughout.
The album’s first single “The Hill” features a voice other than his own for the first time on record, leading with the vocals of Brigid Dawson, keyboardist and singer for fellow rockers Thee Oh Sees. And even though they never specifically harmonize, it’s an unexpected sort of pop styling to welcome Dawson on the intro and chorus. The traditional, slow-rolling guitar chord that guides the whole of “Handglams”, accompanied by Segall’s warped falsetto on the track’s second chorus combine for a seriously jolting effect, just another example of how easily this young garage evangelist is able to turn common conjecture. The way in which he can completely scramble his guitar on a whim, on “Who Are You”, all the while telling a story in four different voices and conducting a Moroccan-driven percussion arrangement proves Segall is more than just a frilly haired guitar thrasher.
Twins works to include both the bombastic noise that made Lemons a cult hit, and redefine any notion of what Segall is capable of. It bounces from ballad to sludge, from pop to punk, and blends them all seamlessly, crafting a record that fails to fit within any guidelines, presumptions policed by his previous work and the genre at large, and ultimately triumphs for the same reasons. Instead of exhausting himself with myriad releases in the past two years, Segall has saved the best for last in 2012, evolving into a nearly unstoppable force of garage rock on Twins.
Essential Tracks: “You’re the Doctor”, “Inside Your Heart”, and “The Hill”