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Ty Segall - Melted

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Artist: Ty Segall

Album: Melted

Label: Goner

Review date: Jun. 30, 2010

When Ty Segall’s first self-titled album came out in 2008, all squawk and bluster and irresistibly fuzzy energy, it seemed like the Bay Area drummer was on the verge of something big. Songs like “The Drag” and “Pretty Baby (You’re So Ugly)” stuck close to a messy, rockabilly form, but exploded them like an IED. Nothing on the debut sounded especially finished. None of the songs seemed like the final iteration of whatever Segall was doing. (For one thing he was still playing all the instruments himself on the self-titled, sometimes all at the same time.) Still, there was enough raw promise there to make you sit up and take notice — and to watch for whatever came next.

A string of singles and splits tantalized but didn’t really expand on the basic premise. Lemons, in late 2009, was a bit of a step back. Though still heavily distorted and full of basement echo, it had a sleekness to it. It sounded more self-assured, more band-like, but ever so slightly less in-your-face than the debut. Dusted’s Ben Donnelly thought it was a matter of missing tunes, noting that Segall “has full command of the busted-speaker garage sound…but even when he burns off some of the haze and moves the singing to the foreground, it’s not sing-along material.” Whatever it was, Segall seemed stuck in the “promising” mode.

Melted gets him out of the ditch and back in the fast lane. His best full-length so far, it combines the debut’s uncontainable glee, Lemons‘ roughed-up professionalism, and a bunch of really good songs. “Girlfriend,” the single, begins in snarling guitars and feral yodel, but quickly turns to double-clapped, Nuggets-style tunefulness. “Imaginary Persons,” near the end, has a little of Jay Reatard’s knack for turning lyrical psychosis into super-hooky, party anthems. The title track shares “The Drag”’s penchant for insane amounts of distortion and echo — and also its strong melodic foundation.

The main shift in the songwriting, apart from really nailing it most of the time, is that Segall has dipped into slower, Beatles-poppier psychedelia. Opener “Finger” starts in serene falsetto and acoustic guitar, dreamily tranquil for a good 60 seconds, until White Stripes-weight guitar chords come crashing through the whole delicate reverie. “Sad Fuzz” has the same whiff of psychedelic pop, sounding like a bruised and somewhat disoriented version of XTC. These are good tracks, not at all watered down, but way more tuneful and laid-back than previous material.

A few indulgences pop up. “Mike D.’s Coke,” with its sorta-thought-out guitar noodling and muttered “Drink Coca Cola,” seems like an in-joke rather than an actual song, and blues bent “Alone” meanders vaguely for a few minutes and revs up only near the end, somewhat anticlimactically.

Still, on the whole, this is the best album yet from Ty Segall, as joy-ride thrilling as the debut, as clearly delivered as Lemons, but with stronger, more varied writing. Still sloppy, still unpremeditated, but with a little more melody, Melted is the one we’ve have been waiting for.

By Jennifer Kelly

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