Ty Segall – Sleeper

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

The last few years have seen Ty Segall take the world by storm, releasing blistering hit after blistering hit.  But, due to circumstances beyond his control, Ty’s taken a step backwards, in a personal sense, leaving listeners with a much more reflective listen.  Sleeper feels personal from the get-go, as Segall has shed a large part of his distortion ethos for a stripped-down acoustic affair, giving you a glimpse of his life, and yours.

“Sleeper” opens this new record, and it opens quite carefully.  A faint whistle lurks while the guitars slowly begin to make their appearance.  It’s a slow-strummed number, with Ty’s voice carefully matching his playing style, emphasizing certain words with various licks. The lyrical content seems to point towards a bit of escapism, but let’s all take our own path on how we determine the meaning.  As it moves into “The Keepers,” the mood seems to go darker, so far as you’re just listening to the tone of the guitars.  I dig his usage of understated harmony; he touches it on it carefully…not pushing it too far for the listener.

There are a few songs in the next few spots that really seem personal, and it’s rather hard to ignore the subject matter.  On “She Don’t Care” you can tell the narrator desperately wants to point out to that whomever he’s discussing is wanted, though possibly neglected.  Whether we take this as Ty’s personal reflection, or our own, we all can affiliate ourselves with unrequited feelings at some point in another, whether for ourselves or for another.  The added string arrangement atop the song really makes it a sad tune, as if those strings are crying for us all.  It’s always enjoyable to see someone known for a barrage of noise go quiet.

I think my personal favorite is the closer on Sleeper, “The West.”  I love the guitar work on this song, which is possibly the most creative on the record; it’s also a tune that I think I can relate to the most, at least at this moment.  Thematically, it seems, to me at least, to be an homage to a place you can call home, a place of solace.  Many of us have wandered or traveled, but there’s always a place that’s nice to call home.  Mom’s, dad’s or friend’s, it’s always nice to have a place to hang your hat.

Early on, Ty Segall used a lot of pieces of acoustic guitar, like on “Ceasar,” but lately we’ve been accustomed to him melting faces with his last few releases; those albums are perfectly grand, but I like the man in the picture painted by Sleeper.  You don’t always have to hammer at your guitar.  Sometimes you can sit quietly with your life and let it all pour out, which is what seems to be the case throughout this LP.  The personal touches throughout make this more than just a stop-gap between albums; it solidifies Segall as one of the most important songwriters today.

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