Album Reviews

Ty Segall’s “Manipulator” Marries Garage Rock and Glam

Ty Segall

After a far-too-lengthy hiatus, I have returned. And my gaze first turns toward prolific rocker Ty Segall‘s new LP, Manipulator. Last year I became a bit obsessed with early T. Rex, as in the stuff they released pre “T” under the guise Tyrannosaurus Rex. In particular, the album Beard of Stars. Around the same time, Segall gave us Sleeper, an almost entirely acoustic album that very much channeled Marc Bolan in his early days. This was quite the departure for Segall, but also an instrumental period leading toward Manipulator.

Now, I haven’t done my research — I haven’t the time — haven’t read interviews Ty Segall has given in advance or since the release of Manipulator. Nor have I read reviews of the album or those of his catalog in advance of Sleeper. So I could be very late to the game of a Ty Segall/Marc Bolan reference.

Segall is a bit unique in the garage rock world. He dons glam makeup. He has stars on his pants. He — quite successfully, mind you — meshes the tight pants, black attire rocker look with a modern Kevin Barnes aesthetic. This has seemingly nothing to do with his music, but on an album like Manipulator it’s a fully complimentary element.

Take a song like “Feel”, which he recently performed on Conan (also, see below). It’s a rocker through-and-through. But there’s a splash of glam; it’s easy to miss without Segall’s makeup and the visuals of him throwing himself around the stage.

You can say the same for other garage-rock-heavy tracks on the album.

Title track and opener “Manipulator”, for example, opens with a prominent keyboard lick drenched in the marriage. It’s successor “Tall Man Skinny Lady” does as well with Segall’s falsetto vocals. Fast forward to “The Collection Man” and it appears in that oddball sampling that kicks the song into gear. Then you have revisits of the acoustic Sleeper sound with subtle tunes like “Don’t You Want To Know (Sue)”.

While not nearly as cohesive as his previous LP, the variety found within Manipulator is more consistent with his earlier albums. The mix of wild, drenched-out tracks next to more acoustic-centric ones is nothing new to Segall and he pairs them well.

Manipulator is yet another winner in my opinion. In that, he also remains consistent. Last year’s Sleeper was near the top of my list of favorites from the year. And Twins from 2012 was as well.

Any guess where Manipulator will end up? Take a hint.

Here is the album teaser video for Manipulator:

Check out Segall’s face melting performance on Conan:

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