Ty Segall appeared to take a deliberate step toward courting mainstream indie-rock stardom with 2011’s Goodbye Bread, a crisp and clean-sounding record of pop-friendly, classicist rock songs. Move it just a couple more notches to the center, and Goodbye Bread could’ve been a Black Keys album. But as his rapidly growing discography suggests, Segall isn’t one to stick with one look for long, and he’s certainly not about to abandon his freewheeling, proudly unprofessional garage-punk roots completely. Slaughterhouse comes just a few months after Hair, Segall’s excellent collaborative LP with White Fence, and it similarly finds him in the company of friends, gleefully burying sharp melodies in waves of delirious fuzz.
In fact, on the paint-peeling closer “Fuzz War,” Segall shitcans melody altogether and just cranks up the distortion for more than 10 minutes. The rest of Slaughterhouse isn’t nearly so uncompromising: “I Bought My Eyes” and “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” are punchy rock songs as immediate as Segall’s riff-ripping best. But, overall, Slaughterhouse is rougher and less crafted than Bread; it sounds more like a bunch of guys bashing out some songs in the garage than a singer-songwriter dutifully buffing his music to a high gloss.
The result is a record that’s weaker in terms of pound-for-pound songwriting than Bread, but highly enjoyable in terms of full-blooded rawness. The way Segall and his band lean into the splattering guitars and pile-driving drums of “The Tongue” is a delight to behold, and “Muscle Man” and the screaming “extra fast” redux of “Diddy Wah Diddy” are splendid toss-offs in the grand tradition of Neil Young And Crazy Horse’s sloppiest jams. Slaughterhouse won’t go down as Segall’s best record, but it’s nearly as much fun to play as it sounds like it was to make.