Ty Segall knows how to save the best for last. Twins—out this week on Chicago’s Drag City Records—is the third Segall-related release of the year, and his solo follow-up to last year’s breakout Goodbye Bread. The most enigmatic and schizophrenic rocker this side of Jack White, Segall has delivered a piece that flawlessly combines his stoner heavy blues jams with his British Invasion psych-pop gems with his punk ragers. A contender for Artist of the Year, Segall takes a serious step towards stardom on Twins.
Far more concise yet diverse than his previous two records of 2012, Twins is a pop behemoth, with moments as terrifying as they are sweet. While “polished” isn’t quite the right word, the production value is purposefully raised here, adding a commanding bottom with both clean and highly distorted guitars. The result is Segall’s most accessible album to date without sacrificing any of his edge.
What’s most noteworthy about Segall is his levelheaded approach to mind-bending tunes. Consistent throughout Twins is the theme of duality: inside every enterprising, humble punk rocker is a horny, fatalist lunatic. The first and most obvious example of his madness is “You’re the Doctor”. Take the chorus: “there’s a problem in my brain.” Chemical imbalance or not, the dude can shred. See if you can spot the other references to medical professionals throughout.
Twins is also more personal than Hair or Slaughterhouse, which is clear why he saved these songs for his solo record. In place of esoteric psychedelia or unabashed aggression are complex songs of love and turmoil. Where on Slaughterhouse he once threatened with “Tell me what’s inside your heart/let me tear that heart apart,” he now ruminates on the situation on Twins’ “Inside Your Heart.” “I hope I am not wrong/so we can get along/I was alive when it climbed inside.”
His act of cognitive dissonance continues into more apocalyptic territory, most notably on Twins’ bookends “Thank God For Sinners” and “There Is No Tomorrow”. Backed by his own warm, commanding basslines, Segall persuades his subject into his grasp using desperation and fear tactics. In just so many words and even more harmonies, Segall points a portrait of a tortured, frantic lover determined to “win” no matter the cost: “There is no tomorrow/We’re all going to finally know it’s true/I love you.”
As regular readers know, we’ve had quite the year covering Segall in his many forms. First, we caught the Ty Segall Band at the Empty Bottle October 2011. It wasn’t until May 2012 that Segall returned, this time at Lincoln Hall in support of Hair—his record with Tim Presley of White Fence. Again at the Empty Bottle, the Ty Segall Band put on the show of the year after Pitchfork this August. Last but far from least was the double bill of Ty Segall Band/Thee Oh Sees two weeks ago at the Logan Square Auditorium. That’s four national tours and three LPs in 12 months. And you think you’re doing something with your life.
It’s pretty spectacular that Segall has managed to write and record three equally distinct releases at the same time, and consistently back them with a scorching live show. As the “indiesphere” continues to be maligned by some, artists like Segall show promise for the next generation; artists who are more interested in music than scene. If you’re yet to be swayed by the buzz surrounding Segall, spend some time with Twins. You’ll hear an artist that’s comfortable but not complacent. Segall knows how to strike when the iron is hot, and as he continues to hone his sound, he further cements himself as the leader in our new era of huge guitars and ripped jeans.
Peter Lillis is Managing Editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. He looks forward to the days of Ty Segall arena tours.