As much as people tend to focus on Ty Segall’s prolific output and his agility as a musician, other aspects of his career get overlooked. Not only has the 28-year-old Californian cycled through far more styles of rock than he’s been given credit for over the last few years, but his artistic growth in that time has been spurred by an underrated cast of collaborators.
Side-project Fuzz is the perfect example. The psych-rock power trio’s second album ‘II’ establishes the group as a force of its own, with all three members (Charlie Moothart on guitar/vocals, Chad Ubovich on bass and Segall on drums/vocals) contributing songs that bleed into one caustic vision.
Louder, darker and half an hour longer than 2013’s self-titled debut, the double-album depicts a society numbed by its own emptiness; a world where people can’t think for themselves. You can hear it in the combative frustration behind ‘Red Flag’ (“Seen the secrets of your wasteland/Open up, I’ll make you face them”) and the flashes of fatalism in songs like ‘New Flesh’ (“Feel no pain, feel no sadness/In this world where living is lifeless”).
But while the tone zig-zags between those extremes, the musicianship thunders on relentlessly. The grinding bass of Ubovich, who replaces Roland Cosio from the first album, slots seamlessly between Moothart’s sludgy riffs and Segall’s propulsive drumming. It’s a dynamic indebted to proto-metal bands like the Groundhogs, Hawkwind and, most obviously, Black Sabbath. The way Segall conjures Ozzy Osbourne on ‘Bringer Of Light’ and ‘Pipe’, however, suggests that the trio couldn’t care less about comparisons.
One thread through Segall’s work is that he’s not interested in simply paying homage. His knack for emulation has always been about picking up where his influences left off and seeing where it can be taken, how it can be fused. By that measure, ‘II’ is a thoroughly enjoyable effort. The only drawback is that there’s too much to take in.
As the sprawling title-track brings the album to a close around the 67-minute mark, the heft of it all can feel overpowering, leaving you wishing for a more concentrated dose.