Published Aug 01, 2019Ty Segall is having fun. So much so that on First Taste, he's shelved his signature fuzzed-out electric guitar for different flavours found in the Greek bouzouki, Japanese koto and mandolin. Add in a healthy serving of brass and saxophone (neither of which are new to Segall, considering cuts from last year's Freedom's Goblin). Vocals are dealt with a little differently, too, as seen on a cappella track "Ice Plant," which is ripe with harmony between Segall, newest band member Shannon Lay, and a vocal harmonizer, making it almost feel like a modern day Beach Boys tune.
Segall has doubled the drums; his kit can be heard through the left speaker, while constant collaborator Charles Moothart's is on the right. This literal two-for-one hit of percussion makes for quite the head rush on buzzy opener "Taste," an absolute ear blast of a song that's one of Segall's most energetic to date — and that's really saying something. Segall is no stranger to a song with real oomph that you can feel — just think back to his cover of "Diversion," from 2016's Emotional Mugger, that seems to blast air into your ears upon listening, and this tune is no different.
The album's opening rush never takes much of a pause, but the mood seems to flip and flop between dark and light. A softer number like "Ice Plant" is followed by the booming "The Fall," which features a proper drum-off between Segall and Moothart, in-your-face fuzz and harmonic distortion. Lighter and brighter "The Arms" leads into instrumental "When I Met My Parents (Pt. 1)." "When I Met My Parents (Pt. 3)" — I guess "Part 2" didn't make the cut — feels slightly unnerving, a slow sonic swirl downward that ends in a screeching creep.
The sinister "I Worship the Dog" features the recorder going on a manic run, which may remind you of the ending of "Caesar" from 2010's Melted. It's little additions and oddities like this that set Segall apart from the common crowd — he's willing and eager to put something in front of you that might raise an eyebrow. "Self Esteem" is a mix of almost Radiohead-esque In Rainbows chord progression with saxophone interruptions that will catch you off guard, like a sudden alarm sound disrupting your sleep, before melting into a groove halfway through that may bring Timber Timbre's stylings to mind.
First Taste is the perfect culmination of all that Segall has learned, lived, tried and tested over this past decade. There's the ferocity that he harnessed with Ty Segall Band's Slaughterhouse, the gentle gloom of Sleeper, the madness of Emotional Mugger and the confidence of Freedom's Goblin.
That said, this record doesn't feel stale at all. The melodies feel so new and exciting, the energy is palpable, and each song has that "one and done" feel in terms of perhaps being the first and only take, which aids in its feeling of immediacy. He's challenged himself here; the thought of a guitar-less Segall may be a curious one, but he really managed to deliver, continuing to prove that his insatiable desire to create is paying off.
This album, Segall's 13th, is a sonic buffet that will likely have you reaching for a second helping. If this is your first foray into the dense world of Segall, you're in for a mouthful with First Taste. (Drag City)