Another month, another Ty Segall album. As noted in Paste earlier this year, the king of California psych/garage/punk-rock is arguably THEE most prolific major musician working right now, and the level of quality he achieves across his releases is incredibly high. The guy is quickly putting together an all-timer of a catalog.
The newest entry in said catalog is Segall’s second collaborative album with veteran Los Angeles psych-pop experimenter White Fence, aka Tim Presley, formerly of The Nerve Agents and Darker My Love, and more recently Cate Le Bon’s partner in DRINKS. The two men joined forces in 2012 to produce a fun and fuzzed-out collection of songs called Hair, a “glorious mess of an album” we said way back when.
Joy is a little more messy but almost as glorious. With track times mostly clocking in under 120 seconds, it’s a series of quick hits that are warped but relentlessly tuneful, like a Beatles LP that’s spent a blazing hot afternoon lying on a busy freeway. As songwriters, Segall and Presley complement each other nicely: Segall certainly knows his way around a catchy tune, but Presley’s a more natural melodicist, and while Presley definitely has his own rough edge, Segall’s a prodigious shredder. Wonder Twin Powers, activate! Form of…a fucked-up pop song!
Highlights on Joy include “Body Behavior,” a pulsing acoustic rocker that snakes in the verses and sparkles in the chorus; “Other Way,” a dead-eyed noise excavation that feels like it fell off the Incesticide tree of influence; and “A Nod,” another rhythmic strummer that may just boast the prettiest melody on the album. It also features one of the least abstract lyrics on Joy:
Tried to please my mother
Tried to please my father
Tried to please everyone but me
Bank says I need money
My friends say I need followers
But I want to believe in me
There are other great songs here: the occasionally jazzy “Good Boy,” the beautiful and Neil Young-ish “My Friend,” and the propulsive “Do Your Hair,” which is powered by a bouncy bass line and uses its 95 seconds with impressive efficiency. The opposite is true for a couple of tracks that show up near the end of the album, “She Is Gold” and “Tommy’s Place,” two silly and/or stoney studio experiments that go nowhere, really. Joy would’ve been a tighter overall package if they’d been cut.
With Segall, though, it’s worth hearing a couple of clunkers if it means he’ll keep making music at his preferred dizzying pace, because his hit-to-miss ratio is so high. And collaborating with Presley doesn’t dent that ratio. In fact, it brings out good things in both men. Here’s hoping their next album isn’t another six years away.