Though he’s got quite the sample size for someone his age -– today’s release of Slaughterhouse is either his sixth or seventh solo release in four years, depending on how you count them -– Ty Segall is a little hard to predict. Take, for instance, something like 2011’s Goodbye Bread, a record that exhibited a little more focus that previous affairs and seemed to make more concessions to accessibility than usual, at least relative to his Goner Records and self-released output. It suggested that Segall was tightening his approach, maybe gunning and grooming himself for less reverb-soaked landscapes as Segall grew more confident with his voice and with his instrument. But as soon as you thought it was headed in a certain direction, Segall immediately went off and engaged something like the White Fence collab Hair which, indeed, was pretty hairy and experimental-leaning. So, maybe it’s a surprise that Ty Segall’s newest record, Slaughterhouse — recorded under the Ty Segall Band moniker alongside constant collaborator Mikal Cronin — is a step into heavier, more hellish rock textures. Slaughterhouse is a confident attempt at making the “evil, evil space rock” Segall has repeatedly cited as his ideal sound, and it’s his also his best record yet.
That heaviness is imparted immediately with “Death,” an opener that loiters in a squelching cloud of reverb before opening up into a roaring, destructive rip. “I Bought My Eyes,” one Slaughterhouse’s earliest singles, doesn’t pull out of that lane, but notably incorporates the Beatles-y hooks that Segall has made his bread and butter (most certainly his Bread). The record is paced evenly between four-minute, song-structure-observant stomps like “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” and “Wave Goodbye” and desperate, one-and-a-half minute storm surges like the title track “Slaughterhouse,” “Muscle Man” and “Mary Ann.” Naturally, the album is capped by the appropriately titled ten-minute workout “Fuzz War,” a deep, bellowing wellspring of guitar noise that climbs dramatically and mysteriously, all with the notion that Segall deliberately meant to leave us at this noisy impasse. While Slaughterhouse surveys the garage styles Segall has sharpened to the brink of perfection, Slaughterhouse’s many shapes never sacrifice cohesiveness as a whole.
There’s something captivating about the sonic mood of Slaughterhouse. While it’s certainly a record brimming with confidence and prowess, that’s not to be mistaken for brightness. There’s a gravity that underlies Slaughterhouse in a way I haven’t heard from Segall before, something that suggests a dark, vicious depth. Slaughterhouse could easily serve as a fitting introduction to Ty Segall, but on the other hand, maybe it’s a good wrapping-up, point, too, a worthy summary of all that has transpired in the career of the young, precocious San Franciscan. It’s a weighty thing; I felt like there was something on my chest while I was listening to it. And, unlike other Segall tracks which I’ve enjoyed only to forget later, Slaughterhouse might sit there a while.
Slaughterhouse is out today on In The Red.
Other albums of note out this week: