Ty Segall blends his past and present on ‘Freedom's Goblin’

Monday, January 29, 2018 - 3:39pm

NOSELL

Drag City

It’s Jan., and Ty Segall has already dropped another album. It’s only been 364 days since his last solo project, and it’d be best to assume that Freedom’s Goblin isn’t going to be Segall’s only release this year. Not that this album wouldn’t be enough to satisfy fans — in fact, quite the opposite. Even though his most recent LP runs 74 minutes, this prodigious So-Cal rocker has already shown us time and time again that he’ll inevitably be back for more.

On Freedom’s Goblin, Segall’s style continues to evolve. Although his fundamentals root in garage rock, we have seen him delve into genres as distinctive as folk and glam rock on records such as Sleeper and Manipulator. However, what ultimately makes Segall’s most recent LP distinctive is the grandiose fusion between all the styles he has navigated over the past few years.

This fusion doesn’t come without contrast. In fact, Freedom’s Goblin continually swings back and forth between texture, pace and instrumentation. Gentle folk melodies will pop up between furious garage rock fuzz. While large shifts in pace and texture will fall short for most artists, Ty Segall further demonstrates his dynamic range in both composition and sheer guitar-playing ability. Ultimately, his 10th solo project sees him neatly stringing together all the grooves that have shaped his work over the past decade.

If one thing’s for sure, Freedom’s Goblin is not boring. The guitar oozes like a ’70s synthesizer on “Despoiler of Cadaver,” which against the robotic, 808-drumkit-esque beat transforms the would-be psychedelic track into something closer to a French club hit. “Meaning” sees the band toy with the noise and overdriven guitar that characterized their lo-fi beginnings. There’s an explosion of punk and free jazz on “Talkin 3.” Like each album before it, Freedom’s Goblin sees Segall continuing to push his experimental tendencies. However, rather than surveying a single genre, his most recent blends a variety of styles into a single rambunctious medley.

Thematically, Segall revolves around the same few ideas that have continued to animate him through his discography: freedom, love and individual expression. The songwriting is lean and the lyrics concise. Across the album, he shifts between childlike curiosity with lines like “When mommy tries to kill you / What are you to do / Climb under the sheets and dream of future days” to melancholic asides in jubilant anthems like “Before you had a name / Before the sailors came / I would fight to save you / I would give my life.”

The album closes with the 12-minute opus “And, Goodnight.” Borrowing lyrically from the track “Sleeper” of his self-titled 2013 album, this incarnation is far from the acoustic textures of the older track. The track is fully electric: Guitars flail and spew for minutes on end, Segall and company slamming into grooves that come off more like a jam session than a recorded track. It’s likely the closest thing we’re going to see to Electric Ladyland this year.

Every Ty Segall fan is different: Some gravitate to his fuzzy garage rock roots while others find solace in his downtempo ballads, not to mention those who crave his deep dives into psychedelic, indie, punk, noise and glam rock among the other disparate genres. Even still, on Freedom’s Goblin, every fan will find something to love.