The pace at which Ty Segall moves is insane. This San Francisco rocker releases, at a minimum, one album a year, and that's not counting his numerous other side projects. Like fellow scenesters Thee Oh Sees, this pace affords Segall his own relative standard of quality. Nobody, not even Segall's biggest fans, expect all of his records to be great. But this one certainly is.
At 17 tracks, Manipulator is a sprawling, adventurous effort. Segall's pulling in a bunch of different sounds here, from the '60s organ on the title track, to Jesus & Mary Chain-esque fuzz on "Feel," to mariachi guitar on "The Clock" to ... whatever that strange electronic noise is on "The Connection Man." Acoustic guitars are featured prominently throughout the album, but not in a stripped-down way — they're just one of many instruments in a lush orchestra that also incorporates bongos and, at times, a whole string section. On paper, this might all sound like a mess, but the sum of the parts makes for a focused album. Segall is seen wearing glam makeup in the publicity photos for Manipulator, a nod to David Bowie's glam-rock excess.
"Garage rock" has become shorthand for "shitty production" in recent years, but even the scrappy White Stripes weren't afraid to add piano or overdub some guitars. Manipulator proves punk ethos and ambition are not mutually exclusive. One wonders what a million-dollar Ty Segall record would sound like.
Ty Segall will perform at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 22 at Trinosophes; 1464 Gratiot Ave, Detroit; 313-737-6606; trinosophes.com; $15.
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