Reviews: Foxygen, Hang & Ty Segall, Ty Segall

Ambitious rock albums from California's Foxygen and Ty Segall
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Ambitious rock albums from California's Foxygen and Ty Segall
foxygen hang.jpg

Foxygen, Hang

Hang has a sincerity to it that I wish I heard more in music. If there’s one unequivocally positive thing I can say about this album, it’s that Foxygen isn’t phoning it in by any stretch of the imagination. There’s orchestration to spare (bits of it reminded me of Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed, which you can take however you like), and the arrangements never sound lazy. It’s upsetting, then, that so much sincere effort was put into something that I can’t bring myself to fully enjoy. There’s a dizzying amount of ideas flying around in Hang’s 33 minutes, but the vast majority of them aren’t developed enough for me to get anything concrete out of them. Just one example: “America” has a part toward the end where the beat switches up and a cabaret-style piano melody comes in, only it’s being played by a groovy funk synthesizer instead. That’s awesome! You could make a whole song out of that! Except Foxygen don’t—they go back to the song’s normal progression after less than 30 seconds and never bring it up again. And this happens constantly throughout the album: a great idea gets thrown into the mix, and is pulled right back out again before the band can do anything constructive with it. It’s strange, because usually my main complaint about otherwise great albums is that they could be edited down a bit, but I feel like this album could easily have been 10 minutes longer and it would have been better for it. (Maybe stretch out the charming but lightweight interlude “Upon a Hill” into a full-length song, for starters?) As it stands, Hang isn’t an unpleasant listen, but it’s an oddly frustrating one. C PLUS

ty segall

Ty Segall, Ty Segall

Well, he just churns ‘em out, doesn’t he? This is Ty Segall’s ninth full-length in as many years, and they’ve all been pretty good, with ups (2014’s Manipulator) and downs (last year’s Emotional Mugger—I swear, this guy is the Steven Soderbergh of music) along the way. I’m not sure if Ty Segall is the unifying artistic statement he’s been working toward this whole time (as late-career self-titled albums often are), but it might be his best work to date. Just about everything here is good, even “Papers”, which breaks up its derivative verses (The Shins’ “Simple Song” was an obvious influence) with a nice instrumental breakdown partway through. That’s not the best moment on the album, though—that shows up in “Thank You Mr. K”, which abruptly stops its noisy second chorus to play a sample of Ty Segall and Steve Albini destroying a toilet before it returns and gets even noisier. I think what puts this album on another plane from his others is how individually memorable each track is; while they all share a similar garage rock feel, they never start to blend together like they often did on albums like Manipulator. “Freedom” is the most rhythmically interesting track, the ten-minute “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned)” has an ambitiously long and mostly successful jam section, “Orange Color Queen” is a throwback to early psychedelia that manages to touch on something really beautiful…every track has its own distinct contribution to the album as a whole. They’ve all got two things in common, though: loads of fuzz, and loads of fun. B PLUS