Ty Segall & White Fence – Joy
The new collaboration from the foremost disseminators of psych and garage rock is breezy and fun, but also slight and sadly filled with less exciting ideas than their previous joint project
Ty Segall and White Fence’s Tim Presley are workaholics. They pump out new music like their lives depend on it because, well, they do. Their prolificacy is part of their appeal, and their dedication to constantly try new things means that, in whatever guise, whether it be as collaborators, or in Presley’s work with Cate Le Bon as DRINKS, or in whatever iteration of Segall’s backing band is knocking around at that moment, the foremost disseminators of psych and garage rock are coming out with something new. They’ve both done that already this calendar year alone: Presley in his aforementioned DRINKS project, and Segall with his excellent Freedom’s Goblin LP. The compromise for their regular output is that not everything sticks all of the time.
Segall and Presley have been here before, and it's with that previous record (Hair) in mind that this new album, Joy, feels, if not a disappointment, like a follow up that falls short. Hair was a tight, eight-track thrill ride and ranks up there with both artists’ best releases. Joy, on the other hand seems sprawling at 15, and yet feels like it packs in fewer new ideas and certainly less fleshed-out ones. With songs broken up by brief and throwaway interstitials and intros, just as melodies, riffs and jams start to make sense they move on to something else. At times, it provides an experience close to channel-hopping through a lot of very similar sounding transistor radio stations. Perhaps this is the point – when an album goes from gummy 60s pop (Please Don’t Leave This Town) to something approaching thrash metal (Grin Without Smile) surely the only goal is to disorientate.
Despite this, when Segall and Presley hit their sweet spot, Joy is not without (cough) its joys. Good Boy is a weird gem that builds to a satisfying guitar duel, while similar tracks like Do Your Hair, Body Behavior and Hey Joel, Where You Going With That? could all, if sequenced better, fit into a back half of Abbey Road-style medley.
For anyone who has been obsessed with every Segall album since Goodbye Bread, this new record will feel like most of his work – breezy and fun, but also slight and probably the result of some friendly jamming with a pal, as Segall and Presley are. Their combined creative nous is such that if the two took the time to craft something more elegant and thought out, they could deliver a classic.
Listen to: Body Behavior, Good Boy, My Friend