Ty Segall - Freedom's Goblin (Cover Artwork)

Ty Segall

Freedom's Goblin (2018)

Drag City

Ty Segall continues to expand his sonic universe with his chameleonic new album Freedom’s Goblin. In building a tower of rock ‘n roll Babel, saxophone and piano are the new scaffolding upon a foundation of fuzz guitar. Serving as a sequel and evolution of the genre mishmash of 2017’s eponymous album, the new album is once again engineered by Steve Albini and was recorded in five different studios across three states with Segall’s regular cohorts in the Freedom Band. It is also his longest album to date, clocking in at 74 minutes without a single uninteresting attraction. Segall recently admitted a conscious restraint regarding his release schedule to permit each album an attentive audience and to allot ample time for digestion of his new offering. Freedom’s Goblin marks his 10th release in 10 years.

Stylistic whiplash dominates as punk ragers segue into acoustic shuffles that then morph into full band freakouts. “Fanny Dog” kicks off the album with a joyous, rollicking piano and brass accompaniment to celebrate Segall’s loyal canine companion (and is the first tongue-in-cheek reference to the Band). “Rain” begins with mournful, meandering keys that mutate into a New Orleans funeral dirge, waiting for “the sun to grow cold and still” as brass and guitar spiral into the dark clouds above. “Despoiler of Cadaver” recalls the oddities of Emotional Mugger with burping basslines and oscillating guitars that create a subterranean funk. “Meaning” stomps in with Neanderthal toms and jolts to a punk throwdown with Denee Segall on lead vocals sneering and snarling sarcasm. Abruptly, “Cry Cry Cry” shuffles through the door with downcast eyes looking for a slow dance at the 1966 Under the Sea prom. “Shoot You Up” returns with menace as a digression on urban fear and sounds like a lost cousin to the Stooges’ “Johanna.” Taken as a whole, Freedom’s Goblin is a distillation of Bowie-esque persona inhabitation in a single, sprawling album.

Freedom’s Goblin also serves as a continuation of thematic journey initiated on last year’s Ty Segall. “My Lady’s on Fire” continues Segall’s domestic celebration and fleshes out the acoustic rumination of “Orange Color Queen” to include a delightful saxophone outro. “Talkin 3” reinvents track 4 from the eponymous album with frenetic brass and guitar interplay, magnifying the condemnation of Californian (and no doubt American) self-interest. Indeed, Segall reported that during the 14-month gestation period for this album most songs underwent multiple reincarnations. Finally, “And, Goodnight” mirrors “Warm Hands” as this album’s epic sojourn into the sunset as dueling six strings soundtrack the Freedom Band saddling up a Crazy Horse to go in search of that cowgirl in the sand.

“I’m Free” is the philosophical heart and gentle comedown to the preceding maelstrom of fuzz that precedes. Taking stock over the musical journey across the tracks of Freedom’s Goblin, it can be concluded that Segall’s omnivorous consumption and regurgitation of music that has inspired him has brought on the realization that stylistic constraints are self-imposed shackles that deserve to be broken. Over a thumping kick drum and ringing acoustic guitar, Segall finds himself alone at home and intimates “I’m not the person you think I might be, I’m someone different, I’m free.” Additionally, Segall admits he’s thinking of us and proceeds with an invitation to consider, “Have you ever thought you might not be what you believe / You might be someone different / You might be free.” Sink into Freedom’s Goblin and marvel at a singular artist finding and mastering symphonic liberation.