August 25, 2013

Ty Segall, "Sleeper"

Intimacy is tough when you're raging in front of steamrolling noise and amps cranked to 10. It's been done, but it's rare. Ty Segall has made a career out of the high-energy punk thing, but he's often stepped back and gotten intimate for a few songs on each record. The last time he did so in quantity was on Goodbye Bread. So this new one, Sleeper, isn't exactly virgin territory for him, but it does see him staying in the same mellow mode for an entire LP. True to its name, the album is sleepy, but not sedate, and certainly not serene. There's a lot of confusion and unease behind these songs. It doesn't all come from the lyrics -- which run into deep poetry territory and will take more than the seven or eight listens I've given it so far to decipher -- but more from the sonic mood. There are atonal solos played on the acoustic, some simple stomping percussion throbs, the slowly decaying wash of an echo effect left running in the background for a whole song. The delivery is dream-like. Again, not "Sunday morning, feeling groovy," but more "weird nightmare." Like there's this loner guy who's invited you up to his room and he's singing you these shockingly good songs, reading the words from the journal open on the floor in front of him while a tape of psychedelic soundscapes plays quietly on the stereo. Talk about intimate.