Ty Segall - Sleeper
Ty Segall is a hard man to keep track of. Usually indulging in simultaneously searing yet sweet garage rock (see last year’s stellar Slaughterhouse) he’s now on his seventh solo studio album, alongside a dizzying body of consistently good-to-brilliant work with at least seven other bands or duos. He put out three records last year. He’s got at least one more out with brand new band Fuzz this year. Oh, and he’s only 26. The bastard.
Sleeper is however, a fairly substantial curveball in the canon of writer’s block’s nemesis. His usual output is fuelled by the same restless, raucous energy that drives his frenetic productivity, but here he trades in his distortion pedal for a far more subdued, often gloomier sonic palette. This is the most stripped back and spare we’ve yet heard Segall, each track almost entirely acoustic-driven, influences largely being drawn from 60s/70s folk-pop: think Donovan rather than Dinosaur Jr. this time round.
The outcome of this change of tact is somewhat divided. Whilst the song-writing is typically sturdy throughout, songs like ‘The Keepers’ and ‘The West’ feel as though they lack any particular compositional ambition, and combined with the retro atmosphere can make the record feel closer to stagnant time capsule-dom than reinvigorating revivalism.
Fittingly for being an oddity in his catalogue, the songs are perhaps at their strongest when at their most odd. In spite of the more restrained vocal performance and ostensibly more one-dimensional down-tempo song-writing basis, it’s when Segall cuts loose that the record thrives. Particularly notable are the outro slide-guitar noodling of ‘6th Street'; the reverberating rattle that eventually rises into thrillingly unsettling disconcord on ‘Queen Lullabye’, and especially in the sense of somnambulant intimacy in the lyrics of the title-track: “I want to sleep all day with you”.
This imagery of sleep, sleepers and sleeping recurs, and seems all the more significant when the record is consider - as at least in part - Segall’s response to the death of his father and estrangement from his mother within the last twelve months. On that score, ‘Crazy’ and ‘She Don’t Care’ are the most overtly autobiographical, though so overtly so - and with such borderline-irritating chorus melodies - that you won’t need to spend too long picking over them.
More interesting is the dichotomy of sleep that hangs over the record form the title downwards. At the start of the record, sleep is turned to as a means of escape from a painful reality, but by the end the sense of it as the cousin of death is held with a heightened consciousness. This escape instead becomes absence, whether from other people in ‘Sweet C.C.’, from time in ‘Queen Lullabye’, or ultimately place in closer ‘The West’ (“Where do I go home?”).
Sleeper is a record of hidden depth beneath the seemingly simplistic veneer. It’s undoubtedly guilty of drabness and even boredom on occasion, but it’s a record that on cohesive, repeated listens ultimately rewards both Segall and the listener for dipping their toe into new climes. th Street’,