The Jakarta Post
‘Freedom Goblin’ by Ty Segall (Ty Segall/File)
Ty Segall’s latest album is a double LP opus that works as a culmination of his prolific output.
Confident and catchy-as-heck, Freedom’s Goblin manages to stand out even among the extremely prolific musician’s whopping discography. This is his 10th full-length album since his 2008 debut, quite apart from his many singles, EPs, collaborative recordings and various releases.
Having been connected in his early days to the burgeoning San Francisco punk scene headed by John Dwyer of the equally prolific Thee Oh Sees (whose label Castle Face released Segall’s first full-length), Segall has continued to grow without abandoning the boisterous rush of his punk spirit.
Building atop his basic layout of psychedelic rock, Goblin expands and borrows from its 31-year-old creator’s own past releases.
There are guitar theatrics and rhythms that blow with the kind of extravagance found in glam rock; moments of straightforward head-pummeling punk; familiar folk-tinged classic rock, and even some disco elements. It is a record that pushes the boundaries of psychedelic rock without abandoning its core urgency.
Beginning with the T-Rex chug of “Fanny Dog”, Segall immediately adds fresh elements, including harmonies and a horn section. The song bursts with immediate verse and chorus, as does the 1970s power ballad-indebted “Rain”, a piano-driven melancholic track that peaks with a fuzzed-out guitar solo.
Continuing with the experiments, Segall follows up with “Despoiler of Cadaver” that moves with old-school disco flourishes, drum-machine-sounding percussion, flirty falsettos and funked-out wah-wah guitars.
“My Lady’s on Fire” puts a brass section onto the front, before starting out with the kind of moody-pretty folk touch Segall has dabbled with in the past.
What makes Goblin feel adventurous yet consistent is Segall’s elemental songwriting skills, which boil down to traditional songwriting methods.
Even as his songs take on a variety of cosmetic forms, the core melodies retain a simplicity that goes back to the early days of the Beatles.
A track like “Alta” moves in a variety of directions, from blues and stoner, to psychedelia — but it never forgets the foundation of a memorable refrain.
“Cry Cry Cry” is similarly so, a singer-songwriter sorrowful blues song with hints of country — complete with pedal-steel — but the melancholy melodies are what truly makes it gel.
That melancholy is in fact a core element in Segall’s songwriting.
Sounding like McCartney singing a Lennon song or vice versa, the basic structure of his songs evokes the latter’s pained confessional style and the former’s unabashed gift for immediate pop. Later tracks like “I’m Free” showcase these elements nicely.
Of course, one of the musician’s strongest suits is also the aggressive playfulness of his more fuzzed-out garage-rocking punk moments.
Crushing rockers like “5 Ft. Tall” weave between noise and hushed breakdowns, but mostly kick teeth with a visceral attack as does the chaotic free-jazz-meets-grunge of “Talking 3”, stoner crunch of “She”, or prog-punkiness of the Riot Grrrl-reminiscent “Meaning”.
It is always tempting to consider ultra-prolific musicians as lacking some sort of creative filter, but in cases such as Segall, this is rarely the case.
Freedom’s Goblin is a good entryway into a musician with an intimidating catalogue behind him. Indonesian music fans who are eager for some energetic, off-the-wall doses of driving melodic rock would do well to buy the record then get into Segall’s previous ones.