Ty Segall’s record as a rocker is nearly unimpeachable. The guy makes tons of great music, seemingly for the right reasons. He is, by all accounts, a good dude who just happens to eat, sleep and breathe psychedelic garage rock. He is almost universally beloved. A giant of the underground.
It is easy, however, to imagine his band GØGGS as the answer to the question: “What would Too Much Ty Segall sound like?”
That’s not to say GØGGS is bad, or that their new sophomore album Pre Strike Sweep isn’t worth hearing. Neither is true. GØGGS—founded by Segall and throaty Ex-Cult vocalist Chris Shaw—is a good band, and Pre Strike Sweep is a solid, bracing blast of adventurous punk rock.
Indeed, there are a lot of things to like here. Throughout, Segall needs only six strings and some electricity to conjure up killer guitar sounds, from the subterranean riffs that power “Killing Time” to the prickly noise that permeates the title track to the whiplash thrash of “Space Rinse.” His lead lines are menacing and deliberate on “Vanity,” but bright and razor-sharp on “Morning Reaper.” You get the sense that he could do this in his sleep, though it never sounds like he’s sleepwalking through a session.
GØGGS’ rhythm section—bassist Michael Anderson and drummer Charles Moothart—also handles its business across Pre Strike Sweep, whether that means driving the song melodically (“Still Feeding”), locking into a groove (“Ruptured Line”) or simply playing the role of anchor (“Burned Entrance”) and letting Segall soar and Shaw do what he does best.
In the end, it’s Shaw’s vocals that distinguish GØGGS from other garage/punk acts, just as they do in Ex-Cult. He is limited melodically, but has a gift for using his voice as a battering ram, whether he’s speak-singing, as in “CTA,” or howling through a throat full of gravel, as he does on “Disappear.” He’s a terrific frontman, and his style provides a perfect contrast to Segall’s feedback squalls and squiddly-diddly-diddly proclivities.
Add up the last three paragraphs and you’ll almost certainly come to the conclusion that this is a positive review of a pretty good record. And again, it is. But it’s also the third Segall-related album review of the year on this website, and we haven’t even gotten to his new covers collection yet.
So there’s a lot of competition and comparison that can happen when it comes time to assess one of his records, and very little from Pre Strike Sweep leaps from the speakers. It shred and stomps ably, but it doesn’t feel special. Instead, it roars by for a half-hour and then it’s gone, and whatever thrills it delivers dissipate quickly.