Last year’s Goodbye Bread put Ty Segall on the national map in a way that albums like Lemons never managed to. In 2012, Segall seems hell bent on catching up the rest of his cronies — the collaborators, conspirators and friends which have made southern California the hot bed for psych and garage rock in recent years — to where he is now. Hair combines the talents of both Segall and White Fence, the stage name of Tim Presely. Presely has also released an album under the White Fence title this year, Family Perfume Vol. 1.
Given that context for the album, there are plenty of people who know exactly what this album should sound like before ever hearing it. And, for better or for worse, those people are probably right. Take the more classic rock-influenced style of White Fence, a mutation of The Zombies and The Fall, and throw in some of Segall’s ear-piercing guitar squeals and vocals, and you’ve got yourself the recipe for a pretty damn good album. Hair is maybe less impactful than these individuals have been in their own unique ways, and maybe the expectations from those in the know were a little lofty, but nonetheless, this seemingly inevitable album is still impressive.
Clocking in at a half hour, most of Hair follows a similar pattern: slow-rolling guitar turns into fast-paced drums and a vocal drone. It’s entirely enjoyable front to back, but it’s the moments of spontaneity and spark which truly make the album worth hearing. The second half of “The Black Glove/Rag” transforms from a mostly meandering guitar note and drum improvisation into a massive collage of noise led by Segall’s whining scream. Hair is much less abrasive than Segall’s other works, and maybe more in tune with what Presely has done, but these moments of seemingly spontaneous rock turn the record from drab to intriguing. By pairing “The Black Glove/Rag” with “Crybaby,” a scorching two minutes of stop-and-go, loud and angry music, Hair takes on a new identity halfway through its duration.
The mellotronic sound of the keyboard on “I’m Not a Game,” which obligatorily reminiscent of Ray Manzarek; the drunken slur of Segall’s voice on “Easy Rider”; the guitar solo which slowly fades to black on “Scissor People”: all these moments of charm and fun on Hair, when pieced together by the duo’s brilliant knack for songwriting, make for an album that’s sparse but refined. Although I’m not entirely sure what goal for this project is, Hair at least succeeds in being an album worthy of checking out if you’ve enjoyed anything even tangentially related to these two prolific rockers.
2 I Am Not a Game
3 Easy Ryder
4 The Black Glove/Rag
6 (I Can’t) Get Around You
7 Scissor People