Here’s a contradictory sentence: Ty Segall sleeps. If you’re familiar with the prolific garage god, you’ll find that hilarious. If not, then you’ll have to get in on the joke. Ty Segall, 26, is a garage rock pioneer who has made more than a dozen albums with the various bands (eight or nine?) he’s been in. He’s also working on his solo career, which has acclaimed albums Lemons, Twins, and Horn The Unicorn. Over the years, Segall has been touring, recording, and probably touring and recording at the same time with literally no time to sleep. So, there, you’re now in on the joke.
Sleeper, the hard worker’s latest, is a bit of a creative anomaly for Segall – one not even his closest fans could even predict. It’s highly ironic and completely unorthodox. It’s also incredible from start to finish, with absolutely genius moments over the spread of a perfectly-paced 36 minutes. Ty Segall has creatively stepped out of his garage-fuzz insanity and pulled out the ol’ acoustic guitar – that’s right, Ty Segall’s Sleeper is (nearly) completely acoustic. As if the album title wasn’t enough… Sleeper also shows off more experimentation in the roots – neo-psuedo-psychedelia lingers throughout, permeating like a thin fog.
The title track, which opens the whole journey, has Syd Barrett’s soul imprinted upon it, like he was guiding Segall from the get-go. “The Keepers” really kicks things off with a pervasive jangly guitar riff. “Let the sleeping play for fun,” Segall chides. Throughout, there’s a sweeping feeling of the guitars chiming together that is absolutely riveting. “Let your hair grow and let them know that the dreamers can still shake hands.” Donovan-influenced “Crazy” could be stuck on any of Segall’s previous releases, especially its upbeat chorus. “The Man Man” is a highlight and an incredible one at that. Segall vocalizes this tone in his voice that perfectly matches the warm guitars throughout. A particular section to note is the hypnotic, echoing verse mentioning the title of the song. The only time you hear an electric guitar is on this track, which comes off as explosive as dynamite.
At the center of the album is “She Don’t Care,” a tale about Segall’s mother. The chorus is beautiful and breathtaking in some regards. Even if this is a honest tale, the song still creatively sounds like a story, rather than a complaint or a whine. Segall makes the difference throughout, which signifies the best of songwriters – to be able to take something personal and create a ballad that supersedes the actual concept. With a viola, the track fades out like a true 60′s ballad does – with a triumphant strumming pattern and a last, signifying note.
“Come Outside” features Segall’s vocal talents taking center stage – falsetto and harmonies throughout. This track is one of the few tracks that features other instruments – dense percussion and light bass, which adds a good assortment. “6th Street” is a slide guitar, bluesy trek into more harmonies and hymnal-esque stature. “Sweet C.C.” echoes the same feeling, lumping these two together. “Queen Lullabye” has Segall channeling The Velvet Underground, even down to the strumming patterns. There’s a swirling, buzzing sound that completely takes over the entire song before the final guitar strum, which is new for Segall when it comes to experimenting. The very last track on Sleeper is “The West,” which is a direct call to his father, who died of cancer. Most of the album stems from his father’s death, so, it’s fitting to have an alt-country tune dedicated to him.
Ty Segall did something no one expected of him, exceeded expectations, and made an album no one thought he was going to make. Sleeper is a truly inventive album, even if it seems simple at first listen. It’s an artist who’s been putting out album after album and finally slows down everything to make something truly special. A truly exciting listen from start to finish, Segall channels his most artistic part of himself and comes away with gold. He’s fooled us all – Ty Segall went to sleep. Let’s all hope he sleeps some more.
This article was first posted on August 19, 2013