There’s one entire year separating Ty Segall’s last album, Sleeper, and his new one, Manipulator. That might as well be an eternity for Segall, whose prolificacy has yielded some of the best, most paradoxically evolved garage rock of the decade so far. If there’s one thing that can be said about Manipulator, it doesn’t waste those whopping 12 months of gestation. His most inclusive, expansive album to date, it coaxes textures and touches territories he’s been inching toward for many a moon. And he brings it together in a crowd-pleasing package.
All the Segall basics remain: mildly psychedelic retro-rock with nods to noisy, proto-metal riffage and frizzy folk. But they’ve been more clearly separated, delineated, and enhanced. Even the quiet songs like the Syd Barrett-esque “Don’t You Want To Know? (Sue)” and the silky, funky “Mister Main,” sound assertively swaggering and loud; the loud songs sound simply colossal. “The Crawler” writhes on a hotbed of distorted fuzz, while “Susie Thumb” sports a beehive of dueling, blown-out guitar solos straight out of a Blue Cheer jam session. Segall’s voice is supple and taunting, dipping from pastel-painted daydream to Technicolor fever-dream without a stutter.
What’s strikingly new is the way Segall has punched up and sharpened his quirks and quizzicality. This is Segall in HD, and all the nuances make for a more vivid, yet at times more plastic, listening experience. The album’s title track says it all. “I used the telephone / To sneak inside your home,” he sinuously croons. It’s an infiltration, if not an outright insurgency. With Manipulator, it’s official—Ty Segall is the next Josh Homme, a purveyor of underground-spawned, arena-ready rock anthems for a world that just can’t give up on such a titillating oxymoron. How far Segall is willing to tweak himself next time around remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: The gloves are off, and he’s ready to polish.