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Posted on September 30th, 2013 (7:25 am) by Nick Manai

That Ty Segall's earlier 2013 release, the solo acoustic project Sleeper, was not met with more anxiety and trepidation is a testament to how brilliantly Segall has been able to jump in and out of genres over the last few years. There was the garage punk of his early singles, the pop freakiness of Goodbye Bread, the folk twang of Hair, and the fist pounding metal riffs of Slaughterhouse. They are also all good. Though all of these records carved out their own sonic theme, they were all united by Segall's lo-fi, fuzzy solos that seemed to be more concerned with energy then precision.

Then came Sleeper, an album that saw Segall unplug his guitar and look inward for lyrical content. It was the type of move that could have been perceived as a major statement, a sort of Dylan in reverse. But no one seemed to make too big of a deal out of it. Sleeper was simply another solid Segall record that didn't quite sound like his last one. It was almost as if we all knew that soon (actually really soon considering his recent proficiency) he'd be back with a new album full of the old head bangers. Fuzz is a back-to-roots record from an artist who has yet to make the same record twice. It has everything you want from a Segall album, including the things (a John Bohham-like drum solo on "Loose Sutres") you never thought he would try.

Fuzz consists of former Ty Segall band members Chris Moothart on guitar and Roland Casio on bass, while Segall has moved to drums, but still does the singing. Whatever intrigue Segall's move to drums (reportedly to let former bassist Moothart play guitar) generates quickly disappears once they launch into the first chords of album opener "Earthen Gates." Reverb soaked guitar screeching hangs in the air for a moment before giving way to a chugging metal stomp that immediately recalls the 2012 release of Slaughterhouse. Sonically, it is the Ty Segall Band just with a different name.

The comparisons between Fuzz and Slaughterhouse are easy to make, and important to identify. They may be the two most similar sounding records in the entire Ty Segall catalog. Both records share fast paced heavy guitar riffs that seem to just eat up all the space your speakers can give them. But if Slaughterhouse recalled the punky edge of The Stooge's classic album Fun House, then Fuzz looks to the more typically metal hooks of bands like Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer. The opening, epic drudge on "Earthen Gates" (not to mention its classic metal title) suggests a difference to the quick hitting punk hooks on the chorus of a song like "Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart."

For all of the epic guitar riffs shared by these two albums (check out "HazeMaze" and "Preacher" from Fuzz specifically) Fuzz feels distinctively slower paced. While Slaughterhouse looked to run you over by maintaining its lighting quick pace, taking no breaks (unless to call out some playful banter), Fuzz seems to take more time to build its guitar grooves. "Loose Sutures" opens with a clean riff and then settles into a groove that is at once both lazy and in your face. You could lose yourself in its progression but you'd never forget that it's on. Even the guitar freakout in the middle collapses into empty space where the band pauses, as though they were conferring for a moment, before letting Segall and Moothart trade guitar and drum solos until falling back into a face-melting finale. Its not that Fuzz does not rock just as hard as Slaughterhouse but there is more time to take a breath and think about what is going to come next.

"What's In My Head?" and "Preacher" take their place alongside Segall anthems like "Girlfriend" and "You're the Doctor" and will probably reak just as much destruction live. "Preacher" finds Segall boasting the equally hilarious and frightening refrain, "I'm the preacher," before disintegrating into a haze of white hot guitar rumbling. On "What's in My Head" Segall returns to the kind of deep slacker questioning we have come to expect from him and fellow guitar wiz Kurt Vile, asking the title over and over again. Like many Segall songs he seems to justify his uncertainty best with a guitar noise rather than reason.

If Sleeper was impressive for showing yet another style Segall could craft a rewarding album out of, than Fuzz is the grand return to form, that shows amidst all the exploration Segall might feel compelled to try, he will always have a true identity in garage rock, no matter what instrument he is playing.

Track List:
1. Earthen Gates
2. Sleigh Ride
3. What's In My Head
4. HazeMaze
5. Loose Sutures
6. Preacher
7. Raise
8. One

Fuzz self titled
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

83 / 100
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