Oddly, this year, the youthful Segall has been rather reticent, deservedly taking pleasure in a well-earned hiatus of sorts. During this time of musical redundancy Sleeper started to become a very realistic dream. An unapologetically, all encompassing acoustic record, Sleeper is Segall’s most meditative venture to date. Stripped bare, sparse and untainted, this is Segall chilling in his San Francisco pad, aided by occasional psyched out reverb.
Since 2006, the tireless Ty Segall has released numerous albums, EPs, and singles, whether in a solo capacity or with the surplus of bands that he’s collaborated with. Last year alone, Segall released no fewer than three full-lengths, each displaying a unique quintessence, whether it came from his solo effort, with his touring band, or with White Fence.
Segall’s first full-length record in nine months is practically an all acoustic affair, converting his passion for blemished Sixties harmonies into psychedelic folk. Refreshingly, his sound is just as raw as his preceding, more raucous records. Still reeling from his father’s death, Segall’s pain is apparent on tracks such as “The Keepers” and “She Don’t Care,” the latter a brutally honest proclamation. Honesty is a word that is deeply embedded in so many tracks here; Segall seems to balance his own grief with a realization that all of us will one day leave this world. The song is quite beautiful, which only underpins its sheer brutality.
After all 2012’s yelling, shredding, and artistic freakouts, Sleeper offers a much appreciated sonic reprieve. Segall’s most stripped down endeavor to date; this album is full of stylishly, unadorned tracks. Even though everything here is acoustic, apart from the unexpected electric solo toward the end of “The Man Man”, this album is crammed with a multiplicity that is quite rare. The opening title track sets a solemn tone with impressively struck chords and a self-harmonized utterance from Segall. “A dream-sweet love,” he croons, evoking thoughts of a young David Bowie in full flow.
Strangely, Segall feels the need to provide us with an array of voices; a prime example is when he adopts a questionable English accent on “Crazy,” Sleeper’s finest track. A sprawling pop blue melody, “Crazy” is a track submerged in unconventional falsettos and harmonious superfluities. Easing into the role of narrator, Segall recites poetically without ever becoming incoherent. The aforementioned “The Man Man” has the dubious and eccentric Segall lyrics we have become accustomed to “he went to the water side, they stuffed his foot in and crawled inside, up the river, to your skull, down your body, he made you crawl out your mouth, in my ear he said the special things only I would want to hear.”
Naturally, a distinct danger lies in the fact that too much diversity can result in an asymmetrical, fragmented record. And even though Segall really does decide to switch things up here, the album never feels as chaotic and acrimonious as his earlier efforts. Thankfully, Seagall has matured since the days of say Goodbye Bread, a record that opened with a clap your hands, rainbows and ice cream type ballad and jumped straight into an all out roar fest. Don’t get me wrong, that album managed to justify numerous, unembellished transitions, however, Sleeper is a different animal altogether. Unlike previous records, each track here lives harmoniously in the same cosmos. Easily his most conscientious work ever, Segall’s music resembles that of a tranquil rivulet on a summer’s day, the melodic flow is both poignant and evocative.
A diet consisting largely of The Stooges and early T. Rex tunes has helped Segall develop as a wordsmith, the influence of Marc Bolan and co. is especially evident on the sweeping melody “Sweet C.C.” and the ever so delicate “The Keepers,” a rather delicate offering that lays quiescent on a divan of drums, something that compliments the recurring chord progression splendidly. The album never fails to captivate, overflowing with Lou Reed inspired vocal cadence that’s all very magnetic and sweet.
The songs themselves are short while the attitude is audacious. The beauty lies in the fact that the album never once loses its psychedelic edge. Hidden gem “Some Outside” is unwavering, complimented skilfully by the heavy acoustic end of Segall’s guitar and a rather virtuous falsetto. The hand percussion is angelic and the bass lines strike a reverb of affable quality. Ty Segall will undoubtedly revert back to creating the grating punk that is as essential to him as the air he breathes, nevertheless, it’s refreshing to observe him pause and catch a breather every now and then.