Ty Segall & White Fence
Laguna Beach, CA
San Franciscan wunderkind Ty Segall follows the kind of prolific tendencies of his 2010s neo-garage punk crew (Thee Oh Sees, Kurt Vile, Sic Alps) by churning out droves of insanely catchy tunes and albums of reverb-drowned bubblegum melodies and updated psychedelia. In a post-Jay Reatard world, the bar has been set high for both quality and volume of output in garage rock circles. Segall has met these high marks, with increasing clarity and personality with each subsequent release, taking a turn away from hi-octane punk blitz with 2011's relatively subdued album Goodbye Bread. On Hair, Segall continues this trend toward more nuanced songwriting, this time in collaboration with Strange Boys member Timothy Presley under his solo guise as White Fence. Presley's warped take on '60s popsike and Segall's post-punk songwriter reflectiveness make for a form-fitting combination on Hair's eight hooky nuggets of harmony-heavy, acid-washed pop. Much like some tracks on Goodbye Bread, the influence of John Lennon in his most tripped-out moments is strong on almost every song. "Tongues" is a more disassociated re-imagining of "We Love You" with added fuzz-damaged out-of-control guitar soloing. Sgt. Pepper's-style production is a mainstay of Hair as well, with extreme stereo panning and lots of sounds moving from channel to channel. On standout tracks like "(I Can't) Get Around You" and "Scissor People," the duo finds a balance between Beatlesque ballad and Piper at the Gates of Dawn-style Pink Floyd freakout. Tracks like these speed by lightning fast, but somehow highlight the artist's effortless knack for writing hooks, and hiding them in the corners of darkly psychedelic jams. The organ-heavy "I Am Not a Game" is perhaps the best example of this. Just when Segall and Presley start to seem a little bit too much like they're getting ready to hit a costume party dressed up as Lennon and Syd Barrett, a blast of meta-modernized garage pop like the Ariel Pink-ish "Easy Ryder" brings Hair back down to earth from the realm of homage. The songs (perhaps by design) fly by quickly and sound great on repeat. Hair represents the best possible outcome of the collaborative record. It's an album neither artist would have made on his own, and each takes the other's presence as license to take risks. Hair stretches out into freaked-out zones unknown to either of them before.