TY SEGALL/WHITE FENCE: JOY
(Review Disclaimer: At a particularly grim point in my grad school career, I wore a “Goodbye Bread” t-shirt every day for a week, followed by what could be charitably described as a mental and spiritual melt down at a Cate Le Bon/Tim Presley concert. This review can be nothing but bias...)
Longstanding kingpins of the West Coast psych-garage scene, Ty Segall and Tim Presley (White Fence) are in a word, prolific. Over the course of their careers, the Drag City duo (at this point certifiable garage rock royalty) have each released a massive back catalog, both in their own right chartering the evolution of California punk-fuzz scene. Six years after their first collaboration—2012’s gleefully chaotic Hair—sophomore album Joy delights in its own contradictions. Individually equalitarian, its musical themes run course like a self-aware, Kafka-esque hodgepodge of twists and turns. Presley and Segall have never shied from risk—and nowhere is that clearer than on Joy.
With joint co-writing credit on each song, Presley and Segall craft an alternative garage-honed musical universe. Structurally, it comes off as some sort of a psychedelia rock opera: albeit one without a plot or theme. Sporadic in its fragmentation—but always to great effect—and never completely disorientating, the duo’s unorthodox ebb and flow remains remarkably cohesive. Beyond interlacing vocal harmonies, this is a rare case of two individuals executing their visions while still operating on the same, unique plane. Joy is in many ways an inaccessible album. It holds without a center: dramatic tempo shifts give way from sheer esoterica to folksy intimacy, then plowing back into the psych-punk void. Heavy fuzz tracks like “Other Way” and “Prettiest Dog” melt seamlessly into the pop hum-dumming “Do Your Hair” and the plundering “She is Gold.” “A Nod” professes to vulnerability (“Tried to please my mother / Tried to please my father / Tried to please everyone but me”) followed by the coldly clamoring “Grin Without Smile,” perhaps the album’s most old-school, Melted era Segall influenced track.
Joy is paradoxically abstract and yet, in moments, luminously tangible. Presley and Segall’s wide array of talents were no secret prior—but Joy allows for an emblazonment of each’s willingness to surpass the norm.