Ty Segall is like a box of chocolates. (You know the rest.)
But really, you always get something different with this guy. The 26-year-old singer and guitarist is seriously prolific, with something like 10-15 records solo and with his various bands. What he turns out covers a lot of rock styles, though he tends to favor fuzzy, loud garage rock. This time, he went acoustic and reflective.
It’s tempting to try to parse out the lyrics for references to his Segall’s recently deceased father (“Crazy”?) or estranged mother (“She Don’t Care”?). He wrote Sleeper in the wake of that turmoil and there’s pain and melancholy all over the record. The mournful violin on “She Don’t Care” twists the knife that is the sorrowful acoustic strumming, and “Queen Lullaby” is practically a dirge. But trying to pin the words to any events is almost meaningless because what Segall’s written reflects a universal sadness as much as his own.
Sleeper sounds like a twisted modern version of ‘60s folk rock. He lets the purposefully strummed chords turn dissonant and sloppy, in good ways, and the whole thing is tinged with a psych rock sensibility. The bit of edginess Segall can inject into a folk rock melody and acoustic guitar saves this from feeling like just an emotional outpouring set to music. Good songwriting and interesting sounds are still important. Plus, there’s at least one song close to being upbeat in the album’s closer, “The West.”
Last year, Segall released three LPs and he recently announced that he’s started another new band called Fuzz, so this certainly won’t be the last we hear from him for a while. Here’s hoping he cheers up, even though it sounds lovely when he’s sad.