It’s hard not to like an album that opens with a song about the lead singer’s dog.
That’s exactly what Ty Segall does on his newest record, Freedom’s Goblin, a sprawling double-album with rock riffs galore, wild horn sections, funk jams, new wave trips, ballads, and psychedelic freak-outs. The opening track, “Fanny Dog,” launches like a Polaris missile with a full brass accompaniment and Segall shredding his guitar like his dog probably shreds a stuffed animal.
Segall makes a hard right turn on “Rain,” which seems to reveal his admiration for Radiohead with its simple piano chords, unadorned vocals, slightly warped horns (which are all over this record, really) and lyrics about pining for a lover. His cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s a Winner” is outstanding, and one of the best covers anyone has put out in a couple years. Segall and his crew keep the funk but up the fuzz on it, and we’re all winners for it. Speaking of funk, the bass on “Despoiler of Cadaver” is downright slick, and the rest of the tune is a weird, disco / new wave fun zone.
“When Mommy Kills You” is appropriately hard-hitting. “My Lady’s on Fire” is a ballad that displays Segall’s love for 1960’s folk rock, and the saxophone solo on it immediately gets your attention. “Alta” is stadium rock brilliance. Want more cowbell? There’s plenty of it on the groovy “Meaning,” which blends hot beats with guitar freak-outs. “Cry Cry Cry” isn’t a cover of the Johnny Cash song, but it does sound like a nice salute to ELO‘s ballads. “Shoot You Up” is a slugging, chugging song that I think is about the dark side of the record industry, or fame, or both.
“You Say All the Nice Things” and “The Last Waltz” are two love songs, one about love in the now and one about a love lost to death. One of the longest tracks on the record, “She,” is a wild jam that would be appropriate for any lady wrestler’s entrance music or the theme song for any metal-loving dominatrix. “Talkin’ 3” is almost a free-form acid jazz session, but with a noise rock band playing at the same time. “The Main Pretender,” with its skronking, squealing saxophone by Mac DeMarco, was one of my top 10 singles of 2017. “I’m Free” gets back to Segall’s love of 1960’s folk, and “5 Ft. Tall” has some 1960’s power pop touches to it and then evolves into a garage rock fuzz-fest. The closer, “And, Goodnight,” is a twelve-minute psychedelic jam and a great finale.
As you can guess, Segall is all over the map on Freedom’s Goblin, but it all works. He’s created a record that embraces his many influences and is having a great time exploring all of them. It’s a treat for us as well.
Keep your mind open.
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