Ty Segall and White Fence
Drag City Records · July 20, 2018
A highlight of 2018 summer releases has been collaborative projects. There was Kanye and Cudi’s dynamite miniature LP Kids See Ghosts, a project that displayed the two at their most dynamic in years. Following that, music-industry power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z, also known as The Carters, dropped their triumphant Everything Is Love. It only made sense that the trend would carry over into other genres.
Most recently, the patron saints of modern garage-rock, Ty Segall and White Fence’s Tim Presley, have linked up to bless indie-rock fans with a collaboration effort of their own. This isn’t the first time the two have worked together however; back in 2012 they released Hair, a trippy and concise psych-rock album that had fans begging for more. The pair’s new record Joy, a sprawling fifteen-track endeavor, offers up just as many moments of brilliance as it does disappointment.
As a psychedelic-rock fan, I greatly anticipated the release of Joy, but with many of the tracks being under two minutes, the record comes off as a rushed and half-baked return. What makes this especially sad is that the first third of the album kicks off fantastically, commencing with the galloping uptempo drums of ‘Beginning,’ which eventually slow down as wavy harmonies and blissful guitars pour in. The track seamlessly segues into ‘Please Don’t Leave This Town,’ which features lush acoustic guitars in the verses and wailing electric guitars in the chorus, making for a soft/loud dynamic that works super well. Sounding like it’s straight out of a 60’s daydream, ‘Body Behavior’ is yet another highlight with its urgent pace and heavenly vocal harmonies. Following that track is lead single ‘Good Boy,’ a song that soars thanks to its gentle tone, unforgettable hook, and wicked solo licks, making for perhaps the best song off the album.
Following the first five tracks, quality songs are often times replaced with filler. The songs that immediately follow, ‘Hey Joel, Where You Going With That?’ and ‘A Nod,’ are instantly forgettable with their lackluster melodies, dull guitar tones, and bland production. There seemingly isn’t a single redeeming quality to be found on cuts like these. This trend continues nearly all the way through the second half of Joy, but fortunately album closer ‘My Friend’ is a focused and touching conclusion. Segall’s vocal chops are highlighted as he croons over some simple acoustic guitar chords, and Presley enters in offering up some complementary back up vocals. Then the song shifts into a final psych-rock jam session with slick riffs and hazy effects. It’s songs like ‘My Friend’ that showcase just how much potential the pair have together.
The sound of Joy is endlessly indebted to the psych-rock heroes of yesteryear. Segall and Presley pay reverent tribute to Syd Barrett, Frank Zappa, and The Reid Brothers to name a few. All these elements clash together to create a record that is kaleidoscopic in nature, containing some cuts for fans of all forms of raucous rock n’ roll. Unfortunately, the record suffers from a complete lack of innovation, and at times lazy songwriting. There are simply no new ideas to be found on Joy, but that’s okay, as it’s clear the duo had no intention of breaking the mold on this record. Rather, listeners should go into Joy expecting nothing more than a great batch of songs to kick back and vibe out to.