Review of Manipulator Album by Ty Segall

Californian musician Ty Segall really is the ultimate Jack of all Trades. A singer/songwriter by trade, his multi-instrumental talents have seen him play guitar and drums as well as produce much of his recorded output. Adding the likelihood of Segall showing up in any number of fellow artists' bands aside from the numerous projects he fronts and there's little wonder any thoughts of a relaxation period are immediately extinguished.  

Ty Segall Manipulator Album

As well as being arguably the most prolific artist on the planet, he's also raised the bar somewhat on 'Manipulator', his seventh long player to date. While consistent throughout his previous releases, there's an assured confidence and structure to the seventeen songs that make up this record, ultimately delivering Segall's most accomplished body of work thus far.  

Sure, all the influences you'd expect to hear (and a few others that aren't so obvious) are there; The Who, Small Faces, Cream, T-Rex and early seventies Bowie among them. Perhaps less obvious are the doffed headwear towards Britpop's (yes, Britpop!) more eloquent protagonists. Both Suede ('Green Belly') and Supergrass ('Susie Thumb') spring to mind at various points, which is no bad thing truth be told.  

More importantly, Segall and his band - bass player Mikal Cronin, fellow six-string twanger Charles Moohart and drummer Emily Rose-Epstein - appear to have created their own formula of skewered garage rock that sounds both retro and current in its execution. From the opening notes of the organ-heavy title track, Segall's intoxicating Bolan-esque lilt punctuates its very core. 

Never really stopping for breath, 'Manipulator' delivers all its fifty-six minutes at a seemingly breakneck pace. 'It's Over' and 'Feel' follow a similar path to Tame Impala's more direct assertions, fusing progressive psychedelia with melody yet at the same time never losing the rawness characterised throughout Segall's entire catalogue. 

'The Clock' has an altogether grungier feel about it, not that dissimilar to Mark Arm's "other" musical outlet The Monkeywrench, while 'The Hand' reinterprets The Small Faces' 'Song Of A Baker' as played by a rhythm and blues band schooled on visceral punk rock. 'The Faker' and 'The Crawler' continue the mid-1960s vibe, this time through the bedevilled eyes of a formative Who, while 'Who's Producing You?' sneers incisively through its classic rock inspired veneer.

Occasionally, 'Manipulator' opens its heart in sentimental fashion. "I can hear the sound, when my love's around", declares Segall woozily on 'The Singer', while the delicate 'Don't You Want To Know?' - a lavish descendant of Marc Bolan's 'Life's A Gas' - flutters by in a haze of its own making.

Ultimately, Segall has crafted an album worthy of comparison to the plethora of artists who've inspired him. As a result, 'Manipulator' could well be the record that elevates him out of the underground and into the mainstream. Now wouldn't that be a turn up for the books?


 Dom Gourlay

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