2014 was a landmark year for Ty Segall. It was the year he triumphantly emerged as a glam rock titan with his double album, Manipulator, complete with a shimmering wardrobe and silver lipstick. When he announced that the vinyl release of his next EP, Mr. Face, would double as the world’s first pair of playable 3D glasses, it came as close to a literal interpretation of “eye-popping” as music can get. But Segall has never been one to do the expected.
When the needle drops on the EP’s title track, there are no flashy guitar lines or sparkling synthesizers. Instead, the song begins with the chugging, hollow tone of an acoustic guitar. It’s a far cry from the monster licks of previous singles like “Feel” and “Susie Thumb”, but that doesn’t mean the track lacks tenacity. An energy reminiscent of Led Zeppelin III looms, an echo that comes to full fruition later when the drums kick in for a monster breakdown akin to “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”.
If anything, this EP could be the missing link between Manipulator and Segall’s previous album, Sleeper. Whereas Sleeper was Segall at his most melancholy, Mr. Face takes its musical ideas and gives them bite and vigor. More and more electric guitar shows up as the EP progresses, but everything stays grounded in the acoustic guitar. On “Circles” and “Drug Mugger”, the acoustic plays a primarily rhythmic role, opening up space for Segall to lay some of his savage guitar solos.
The real testament to Segall’s growing maturity as an artist, however, comes with closing track “The Picture”, one of the most subtle and moving songs in his entire catalog. Segall’s guitar sounds like it’s scoring a dazed carnival ride as he lays out a tale of learning to say goodbye. Given how much Sleeper was colored by the death of his father, it feels like Segall has finally found peace. The EP sounds like it could be a “so long” to those melancholy days and a welcoming to his bright, glammy future.
Essential Tracks: “Mr. Face”, “The Picture”