Ty Segall has been a very busy Californian bee. In his relatively short musical career (since 2008) he’s released an intimidating amount of material. He released several albums in 2018 alone (if we include his various side projects). And so far he’s not even gone proper shit. That’s a huge achievement when you consider many bands struggle to make more than one belter of an album. And now he’s released his 12th solo studio album. I’ve been SO excited to hear First Taste. But I wondered, will it be just as brilliant as its predecessors? You can’t do keepy-uppies forever…
Ty Segall is often pretty wacky, sometimes sounding kind of juvenile (but only really on the surface), giving me permission to release my inner teen. He isn’t just incredible/eccentric on record, he puts on a damn good live performance, too. I saw him at Primavera a few years ago, although it was a very uncomfortable watch (the freaky baby mask…urghh).
First Taste is sans guitar, but, like, not in a Keane way. Segall used keyboards, percussion and various stringed instruments. Listening to ‘Taste’, the opening track, you’d never notice it’s guitar-less. It doesn’t make it any less heavy. It’s the perfect way to begin the album and sets the bar high. It’s frantic and forceful. It smacks you in the face from the first hit of the drums.
One song I absolutely love is ‘Ice Plant’. Segall’s simple vocals are at the forefront, with a gentle chorus of backing vocals. It’s a welcome break from the rest of the chaos (albeit good chaos). It ends with a few seconds of pretty piano. After ‘Ice Plant’, it’s back to it, with the brilliantly raucous ‘The Fall’. It’s got a dark tone and a sense of urgency. It’s a very strong track.
‘When I Met My Parents Pt.3’ is heavy on the synth/keyboards. It’s another fast-paced one. I love the repetition of Segall singing “dreaming”, followed by such high-pitched, sharp sounds, that it’d give the beginning of Primal Scream’s ‘Swastika Eyes’ a run for its money. I’ve also got a sneaking suspicion that Segall was having a nice little play on his Game Boy (with the volume on full) whilst recording this one.
Another highlight is ‘The Arms’ – it’s a more chilled, lighter track. Again, it’s a much needed pause in the relentlessly absolutely mental world of Ty Segall. It’s heavier on the strings in comparison to the more keyboard-driven tracks.
Most songs on the album are catchy as hell. You know when you keep singing the same lines over and over again, to the point where you even tell yourself to shut up? The part that gets me the most is “yeahhh, I feel your fingers in my insides, floating upwards”. Not great when you’re trying to make a good impression in your new job. It’s an album you could listen to in its entirety; there isn’t really a bad song on it. I guess I could take or leave ‘Whatever’, simply because there isn’t much that draws me in. Maybe it’s the weird effects. It’s not terrible, I just won’t be popping it onto my playlist.
Whilst the psych/ punk/ garage rocker never really strays too far from his sound, he remains unpredictable and refreshing. First Taste is enjoyably disjointed and edgy. Segall has used instruments that most people haven’t thought about since they were 10 years old; hearing snippets of the recorder throughout the album really took me back to my ‘Three Blind Mice’ days. Yet he’s made something incredible and innovative. He must be knackered, still doing those keepy-uppies.
Words by Kim Fernley