“Maturity” might not be the word that springs to mind when listening to Ty Segall’s Melted and Goodbye Bread, but those were the albums that tore the shit-kicking San Franciscan away from his Sonics-worship and propelled him toward a more melodic sound that’s damaged yet distinctive. The lo-fi guitar and caterwauling vocals were still there, but huffing all those paint fumes in the garage had taken its toll, imparting his music with an addled, stop-start menace—something his crunchy ’60s revivalism lacked. Now, Goner Records is revisiting that early, more straightforward stretch in Segall’s career with Singles 2007-2010, a collection of 25 tracks that captures the intensity but not the imagination of his later work.
Where Live In Aisle 5 offered a redundantly raw take on what were already raw, tattered tracks, Singles shucks off the reverb and makes room for more low-end on “Cents,” “It,” and “Standing At The Station” (from Lemons). It tosses some drum machine on top of “The Drag” and “Shoot You In The Head” (from Horn The Unicorn). And it leaves the material from Melted blessedly unmolested. A cover of Chain Gang’s “Son Of Sam” walls the trebly terror of the original in with great concrete blocks of guitar, and standout track “Dating,” with its chorus of smothered coos, might be the only song Segall has written that could be described as optimistic. Ultimately though, this hour’s worth of material is sustained by a frightful amount of energy, but too little variety, and it’s a challenge to make it through the entire collection without wishing for the druggy chug of Melted. Instead, Singles offers an interesting but inessential time capsule of an artist who specializes in plundering time capsules.