Bay area proto-punk whirlwind Ty Segall seems to simply exude the energy that youth culture has feasted upon over the past fifty years to create garage rock. This energy manifests itself from an ethos that affirms the unanswerable existential questions of the modern youth with a resounding “YES,” heavily adorned in blazingly un-tethered rock.
Melted is this prolific youngster’s third album in two years. His first album Ty Segall was an overdriven rampage of garage pop that combined the catchiness of The Kinks, the repetition of The Seeds, and the oddities of The Cramps into one low-fidelity house party. With it’s release, Segall materialized as a one-man band, sitting behind a stripped down drum kit with his guitar and a microphone.
In between playing drums for San Francisco’s Sic Alps, Ty released Lemons, which by his own admission was less of an effort as an album, and more of an assortment of songs. Regardless, Lemons further exemplified Ty as a songwriter with a knack for the surf-tinged, grungy California garage rock that was at once timeless as well as au currant.
With Melted, Segall delves further into the genre seemingly destroyed in the beginning of the millennium by The Hives, The Vines, Jet etc., ad infinitum, et al. While listening to a lot of Neil Young records, Segall spent six months in and out of the studio with friend and producer Eric Bauer.
“I’ve never tried to make a good sounding, clean record,” says Segall. “I’ve always done stuff really quickly, which is really fun and has a certain kind of energy. I’ve never really explored time in a studio setting. We were just shooting for a cleaner sound because I’ve never really allowed myself to get cleaner, maybe a fear that I had.”
Now, he didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water on this one, but after sitting behind such a heavy lo-fi veil of distorted speaker fuzz, it’s easy to understand the trepidation: A cleaner record means a more exposed punk artist, and Melted is easily the most exposed and consequently transparent record in Ty’s repertoire.
Segall sets the record straight on album opener “Finger On It,” which dilutes any qualms anyone had of Ty going soft. A bone-crushing chorus demolishes the dainty intro vocals with some raunchy guitar-tone and ear splitting drum production. With his point across, Ty gets back to business utilizing a slightly more polished sound to draw from other styles of rock that he previously had no room to incorporate.
“Caeser” and “Girlfriend” boast tasteful rock piano solos alongside straight-up party anthems that sometimes find Segall sounding like a deranged Paul McCartney. Beatles influences are decidedly (and pleasantly I might add) confirmed in the Sgt. Peppers-esque refrain “Please don’t be sad my baby” on aptly vested “Sad-Fuzz.” Ty relentlessly morphs within his created garage identity on this album, recalling blues-pop circa Little Barrie, Atlantic garage punk via The Black Lips, and an amplified Zombies’ era phsycadelia.
Most importantly however, Melted is really fun to listen to. It’s the kind of record you want on when you walk into a great house party — but don’t hear me say that this is background music. Ty draws from all these ‘60’s styles of rock while managing to sound extremely authentic whether singing about girl troubles in “Alone” or despairingly reflecting on love and the dilemma of the American dream in “Bees.” Over the phone, he told me “Bees” was about “recognizing the normalcies of people’s lives and the standardization of love,” a troublesome sentiment acknowledged by a not so-average proto-punk.
Melted was a risky endeavor that allowed a raucous aesthetic to begin to be heard with some difficult questions. “With this one, I remember thinking, “What do I really have to say? How can I use this opportunity to say something?” but Segall was careful not to get too deep, remembering the other side of the coin when dealing with youth culture and music.
“Sometimes it’s political and sometimes it downright says, ‘Hey, this is stupid, and it’s okay to get stupid. Come get stupid with me.’ That’s beautiful, too, because you shouldn’t always be thinking about all of these heavy things. You’ve got to get stupid sometimes, or else what’s the point?”