It should go without saying that Ty Segall has been having quite the year. His combined studio output and touring schedule have been nothing short of prodigious, so let’s do a quick recap. Coming off of his excellent 2011 LP, Goodbye Bread, which saw him strip back, slow down, and expose his songwriting more nakedly than ever before; Ty’s first effort of 2012 was a collaboration. Made in tandem with White Fence, April’s Hair was the purest psychedelic album Ty’s ever been involved in. Then, in June, we were treated to Slaughterhouse, another collaboration, this time with his touring band. Slaughterhouse was Ty’s “rock” album; an album-length demonstration of buzzsaw guitar feedback and animalistic vocal performances. And now we have Twins. It’s hard to believe that this is technically the follow-up to Goodbye Bread, considering all he’s done since, and yet it is. If Hair was Ty’s psychedelic album and Slaughterhouse his rock album, then Twins is simply Ty’s Ty album.
What exactly does being “Ty’s Ty album” entail? A lot of it has to do with songwriting. Twins is an album that spotlights Segall’s songcraft more than either of his previous efforts this year, but a second, stripped-back Goodbye Bread this is not. Instead, Ty Segall has delivered an album that combines the unhinged, careening, chaotic performances of Slaughterhouse with the 60’s psychedelic tinges of previous album highlights like “You Make The Sun Fry,” and a more fully realized sense of melody than he’s ever showcased before. It’s the complete package for Segall; closer to Slaughterhouse in approach than any of his previous efforts, but more multi-dimensional.
This being his own and solely his own creation, Twins isn’t just an album; it’s a trip through Ty Segall’s consciousness. On “You’re The Doctor,” Segall shrieks “There’s a problem in my brain!” and judging from the rest of the record, you’d be inclined to believe him. There’s longing and romanticism, snottiness and boredom, and bitterness and lust; just like on any Segall solo release, but these broad feelings sit in conjunction with more tangible themes that sew different parts of the record together. On “You’re The Doctor” and “Inside Your Heart,” it’s doctors; on “The Hill” and “Handglams,” it’s hills; on “Would You Be My Love” and “Ghost,” it’s ghosts; and on “Gold On The Shore” and “The Hill” (again), it’s beaches. With so many small threads recurring over its short running time, Twins has a sense of specificity about it; something that most albums that thrive on clichéd, revivalist rock & roll ideas lack.
For all this talk of threads and dimensions though, Twins, like all Segall efforts, has a highly economic approach. Its 12 tracks total less than 36 minutes, and it’s mostly pedal-to-the-floor, although like countless other albums with this approach, the moment that it finally lets up is one of the album’s best. “Gold On The Shore” is to Twins what “Lovely One” is to Lemons and “Caesar” is to Melted; that is, the album’s bona fide acoustic ballad, but it’s a shame it doesn’t come until track 11. With the sludginess of every other song on Twins, it’s something of a red herring, but would have been just as well off serving as a respite from the chaos somewhere near the middle of the album, rather than a treat at the end.
Upon hearing the first notes of album opener “Thank God For Sinners” for the first time, my thoughts were somewhere along the lines of “Oh my God. Here we go again.” Which, in retrospect, is actually a semi-accurate assessment of Twins. The cathartic nature of Twins‘ performances is nothing new for Segall, and neither is the deranged lyric-writing or tinges of psychedelia. But with Twins, Ty Segall has once again tapped into the well of 60′s garage rock and come out with something vital, new, and undeniably his own. It’s the best album of its kind to come out this year and, perhaps even more significantly, Segall’s best work to date.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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