Published on September 21st, 2013 | by Mike Conlon0
Ty Segall – Sleeper
How many listens does it take to truly appreciate an album? The brilliance of records like ‘Let it Bleed,’ ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On,’ and ‘Funeral’ is immediately apparent. One listen and you’re floored. Other albums, however, while just as great, don’t shine as bright initially. You’ve gotta play those records over and over to get at their essence. This is the case with Ty Segall’s ‘Sleeper.’
On ‘Sleeper’ Segall sets aside his electric guitar and fuzz pedal, and picks up the acoustic. It’s really not that big a surprise that Segall would put out a largely distortion-free album. His previous albums have betrayed a fascination with melody that belied their prog-rock roots. Nonetheless, I had to play ‘Sleeper’ in its entirely multiple times before I could accept that Segall had eschewed the ‘Kick Out the Jams’ / ‘Raw Power’ sound this time around. However, once I got over my fuzz withdrawal, I thoroughly enjoyed the album.
‘Sleeper’ finds Segall at an emotional low. He wrote it shortly after the death of his adoptive father. He’s publicly stated that his relationship with his mother is on the fritz. These unhappy vibes bleed into ‘Sleeper’s’ songs. Right from album’s opening title track, ‘Sleeper,’ his emotional turmoil is apparent. With an acoustic guitar, some strings, and seriously plaintive singing, Segall creates a three-weeks-of-nothing-but-overcast-skies vibe. He follows up with ‘The Keepers,’ which might just be the most melodic bad trip you’ll ever experience.
That said, the album isn’t a total bummer. Try and listen to ‘Sleeper’s’ last track, ‘The West,’ and not feel optimistic, even as the lyrics paint a bleak picture. I actually prefer playing the album from that last track and working forward. I found that when I played it from start to finish, I couldn’t escape the bleak vibe that Segall establishes in ‘Sleeper’ and ‘The Keepers.’ Hearing it backwards sets a better tone and lets you work through the album.
‘Sleeper’ confirms that Segall’s range as a musician. He’s the aural equivalent of director David Gordon Green, who hasn’t felt compelled stay within one filmmaking genre. Except, where people give Green hell for refusing to stay inside just one box, critics have lauded Segall for continually pushing outside the boundaries. I’ll join in this choir of approval; ‘Sleeper’ is great. And lest I mistakenly convey that this album is a totally acoustic, let me clarify, it’s not. Halfway through ‘The Man Man,’ Segall picks up that dusty electric guitar and rocks the shit out of it.
Ty Segall has released a steady stream of amazing albums over the past couple years. I wonder how long he maintains this level of quality? I guess it doesn’t really matter. ‘Sleeper’ is further confirmation that Segall is on another level. So get a copy. Right. Now.