The Lowdown: On his latest (and longest) record, indefatigable rock-god-in-waiting Ty Segall beefs up his sound with a brass section while giving himself over to a bout of anything-goes creativity that hits way more than it misses.
The Good: The brass, which adds showband strength to power pop numbers like “Fanny Dog” and “Alta” or lived-in texture to standout “My Lady’s on Fire”. It also sounds like Segall’s dug deeper than ever into his record collection; the no-wave skronk of “The Main Pretender” recalls James Chance and the Contortions while “When Mommy Kills You” marries Segall’s rock brawn with the oversaturated weirdness of the Olivia Tremor Control and other denizens of the Elephant 6 Collective. Segall’s Odelay-style makeover of Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s a Winner” is also worth a couple dozen spins.
The Bad: At 75 minutes (almost 20 minutes longer than 2014’s Manipulator), the record has a couple of saggy spots (cowbell freak-out “Meaning”, the majority of momentum-sapping closer “And Goodnight”). Any frustrations, though, mostly stem from Segall’s lack of focus on his thrilling genre experiments. There are about four different records competing for our attention here (with pure power pop and those no-wave interludes being the most interesting among them), and repeated listens amplify the wish that Segall had reined himself in and fleshed out a couple of those, instead.
The Verdict: Although he boasts a prolific streak that rivals even songwriting machine Robert Pollard, Ty Segall has never made a truly bad record, and that remains true with Freedom’s Goblin, which explores and innovates enough to qualify as incremental (but confident) progress for one of rock’s most consistent voices. As Pollard’s catalog can attest, though, consistency can lead to complacency; it remains to be seen whether the innovations on Segall’s latest offering spark a new dedication to focused evolution or whether it simply takes its place on the list of Segall’s very good stack of albums.
Essential Tracks: “Fanny Dog”, “When Mommy Kills You”, and “My Lady’s on Fire”