I don’t think that Ty Segall understands the concept of taking a break between releasing albums. Most artists will release an album and then wait a few years before releasing another one. Segall instead waits quite literally a year before releasing his follow-up album to last year’s Sleeper. Besides having the uncanny knack to rapidly record and release albums, Segall also has the talent for releasing an incredibly large amount of albums. In the span of his rather short musical career, roughly six years, he has release the grand total of 17 albums excluding this year’s Manipulator. He has eight albums under his belt and a string of releases with the various bands that he has been a part of during his career.
One would presume that the short time-span between albums would result in a string of mediocre albums, with Manipulator being another one. On the contrary, Manipulator is the result of the Gods (and Goddesses) of grunge, glam, garage, psychedelic coming together and engaging in passionate love-making beneath the stars. The result of this was the gorgeous love child that is Manipulator. It seems that Segall is incapable of releasing a mediocre album, each album seems to better the previous one. He is rather like an underground and rather hipster-like Jack White – except he isn’t arrogant and also doesn’t act like a hipster when he’s not.
The first thing that comes to mind while listening to the album is: “Good Lord, there are so many guitars”. It is not just that there are a lot of guitars. It is the fact that the guitar work is that of sheer brilliance. Segall is a guitar wizard, who is capable of conjuring cunning sorcery to that will make the staunchest of hearts weak at their knees and practically swooning when the tumultuous wave of guitar riffs crash over them. The grungy bass riffs pack a hefty punch while Segall’s hazy, psychedelic guitar picking sends you straight into the stratosphere of the music world where you are lift to float about for a while before the gritty garage rock-styled riffs bring you crashing to the crowd. This is neatly tied up with a flair for the theatrics as the glam rock influences creep in on the vocals and on some of the guitar solos.
Songs like “Tall Man, Skinny Lady” come at you with bouncy and upbeat guitar riffs that sound like a fusion of garage rock and surf rock while maintaining an off-beat and hazy psychedelic feel to them. “The Singer” conjures up a bluesy psychedelic strangle-neck guitar solo that hits you in all the right spots. “The Faker” is laced with garage-rock energy, while a grungy noise lurks beneath the surface of the song. “Green Belly” seems to draw influence from The Rolling Stones with the acoustic chord progression and the Mick Jagger sounding vocals. Progress further into the album and you’re greeted by Segall’s take on The Beatles in “Don’t You Want To Know (Sue)”. “The Crawler” greets you with a grungy roar of distorted and erratic guitar riffs that lean into the fine-tuned world of loud, angry garage rock.
Suffice to say, Ty Segall has created a masterpiece of an album through Manipulator. It is difficult to make a seventeen song album worth giving repeated listens but he manages to make as exciting as possible that each listen allows you to discover a new aspect of the album. If anything, this is an album that should send him sky-rocketing into fame although the current climate of the music industry may indicate otherwise. Either way, this is an album worth of adoration and praise.