It’s hard to feel just merely ambivalent towards anything Ty Segall does. You’re either totally bewitched by the Californian’s enchanting and sprawling discography, or an outsider peering in and wondering what all the fuss is about. Take Segall’s most recent solo album, ‘Freedom Goblin’, which appealed to those who appreciated the psychedelic side of his musicianship, but its weirder edges were unlikely to win over any new fans.
‘Joy’, this collaborative album with fellow West Coast rocker White Fence (real name Tim Presley) will likely not convince any casual listeners to dig any deeper into either’s catalogue. In fact, even for ardent fans it feels like a slog. Boasting 15 songs in a dizzying 31 minutes, ‘Joy’ is an uneven and patchy listen that seems to show the pair severely lacking in discernible ideas. What’s more frustrating is that it’s not always been like this. Segall and Presley teamed up for their first joint album, ‘Hair’, six years ago – and it made for a zippy, electrifying listen. News of this album had us frothing at the mouth.
‘Joy’, however, is half-baked. The noodling melodies on songs like ‘Please Don’t Leave Town’ don’t seem to click quite as seamlessly as they did last time around while creative momentum comes to a halt as a result of the album’s third sub-minute skit (track 11, ‘Prettiest Dog’). By the time we land at track 13 ‘She Is Gold’, which is the only song that clocks in at over 4 minutes, it’s pretty clear that they’re either wildly pushing the boundaries of songwriting – or have simply run out of ideas.
When there’s a bit of focus and quality control, it’s intriguing enough that earlier transgressions are forgivable. ‘Good Boy’ is a classic-rock jam laced with endearing riffs and there’s shades of The Byrds and Zombies on ‘A Nod’. Meanwhile, we’re riding waves of joy on surf-pop bop ‘Body Behaviour’ and revelling in the bizarro, Hendrix-nodding ‘Hey Joel, Where Are You Going With That?’
Sure, it’s worth making the effort if you’re already a Segall Stan or a White Fence mega fan, but beyond that? There’s little here to latch onto that’ll make your stay worthwhile.