Before we start I should make my feelings clear: winsome West Coast garage–punker Ty Segall makes me sick. Years of amateurish and painstaking hours strapped to the acoustic guitar have seen me boldly exploring the lyrical and sonic hinterland between the excruciatingly bad and the downright hilarious (the less said about my break-up album the better). Songwriting, I concluded, is a difficult task achieved only through a slow and arduous grind, and even then it won’t be very good. And, yet, while I’ve been toiling and chipping away at this most unforgiving of coal-faces, Ty Segall breezes in with his lo-fi San-Fran charm and an apparent ability to just sneeze out the tunes. Call me bitter, but this hardly seems fair.
Goodbye Bread is the 23-year-old Segall’s fifth (!) album and came with the proviso that this would be a poppier take on his usual roughnecked garage stomp. This is certainly the case, but that is not to suggest that any of his Troggs-informed fuzzy energy is lost; just that it has not, as was previously the case, been channelled directly to the pit. ‘I Can Feel It’ is pure psychedelic Lennon, while ‘The Floor’ lurches fantastically from a woozy dream to stop-start call and response and hints that, for Segall, the future is deliciously acid-fried. This is a feeling compounded by the would-be Nugget of ‘Where Your Head Goes’. Here, Goodbye Bread gives the impression that Segall does this all without effort; channelling his influences with a sloppy energy and easy appeal. That he now chooses to do this while broadening his musical palette is an enticing prospect.
Goodbye Bread is more considered than Segall’s previous albums and hints, with the merest wisp of suggestion, at a developing maturity to match all that youthful vim and charm. However, this is not a fully realised work: there is a fine line between the laidback and the slapdash, between lean economy and lazy monotony, and this is not a balance Segall always achieves. ‘California Commercial’ is a one-chord annoyance, while ‘Comfortable Home’ would have benefited from a little more grooming before being cast into the world. Despite this, there’s enough to admire here to suggest that Ty Segall is with us for the long haul. What a bastard.
Words: Rich Furlong