Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread (Drag City)

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by Tamsin Chapman

Ooh I bet Ty Segall has some awesome guitar pedals! Some might be square and some might be oblong and some might be black and some might be in cool colours and some might even have names that sound a bit rude like ‘flange’ and ‘muff’ and …

No, I can’t fake it. I don’t give a flying crap about guitar pedals and ‘technique’ and ‘classic rock’ and why? It must be because I’m a girl, and as Ty Segall suggests in ‘Comfortable Home’, much more interested in soft furnishings.

“She says she wants to buy a couch/I said ‘Why do we have to buy a couch?’/I understand why/She wants a comfortable home”

“I would like to buy you a comfortable home”, he continues, monotonously, in a style reminiscent of Father Ted’s ‘My Lovely Horse’.

Aw thanks Ty, so sweet. Despite the lady’s lack of interest in your throbbing stompbox, you ‘understand’ and you will provide. And you will do the following in order to Be a Man:

  • Listen to your dad’s records and form a band!
  • Be really, really good at playing the guitar!
  • Look a bit like Kurt Cobain!
  • Prefer John Lennon solo to early Beatles!
  • Be a bit ‘child-like’ in your delivery so that people cite Syd Barrett and Daniel Johnston, but without the mental health issues!
  • Forget to write any tunes!

Here are some extracts from my notes: “actually feel sick … primitive but no bite … they all have the same plodding beat … the anti-Las Kellies … no dancing … OH GOD … it drags … I suppose it’s about the guitar, who gives a shit about the fucking guitar … John Lennon vocals again … stoner rock … SIGH”

Uh-oh I’m going to slate it but not in a fun way, because I don’t despise it, I just don’t find it that exciting and I’m probably the wrong person to review this anyway and oh why aren’t there any bloody tunes?

But then it picks up as it goes along. Track six, ‘My Head Explodes’ is by far the best song. It’s a quiet-loud cliché, however the melody is more intricate, and there are proper dynamics to it and a tension and sexiness that has been in short supply so far. And hurrah! Towards the end, the pace finally changes from the listless plod of all the preceding tracks and gets a bit more twitchy.

The next song ‘The Floor’ starts with a grimy rockabilly rattle. Now we’re getting somewhere. Oh no, spoke too soon, after a couple of bars it goes ploddy again. Bah.

But I feel I should like Ty Segall. This older performance is fantastic:

And when looking for links for ‘Goodbye Bread’ and listening to the songs in isolation, they sound much better.

I’m all confused. My immediate reaction was The Three Bs: Boring. Blokey. Beards. But it’s not that simple. I’m starting to doubt my initial judgement. Is there more to this? As I ponder, my girlfriend walks in so I ask her to listen to the album and tell me what she thinks and this is what she says:

“It reminds me of a bunch of blokes with plastic pints of lager standing in a line and nodding greasy heads.” And she’s right of course (except she forgot to mention that the blokes also emit a faint miasma of scotch egg).

Ty Segall is without doubt a supremely talented guitarist, but although he knows how to do all sorts of sometimes magical twiddly bits, on this album at least, he fails to write any memorable riffs. Listening to the record as a whole is wearing – there’s not enough rhythmic variety, the Lennon reverb on the vocals is grating, and the tunes just aren’t good enough. Segall does everything himself on this album, singing, guitar and drums. Have another look at the video for ‘Girlfriend’. There’s a female drummer and bass player in his band and its blistering. Ty – you may buy a woman a comfortable home but it seems you need her to provide you with a decent groove. Stop playing with yourself. Burn your daddy’s records. Cut your hair. Get the girls back in again. Now we’re talking.

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