Fittingly enough considering the title, Ty Segall’s new album First Taste feels like a tasty box of musical chocolates. The prolific noise rocker smoothly veers between a subtly dramatic range of styles on his latest work, unifying what might otherwise be wildly disparate into a really compelling and even catchy creation. At times, he’s playing jazzy noise rock with the jagged, pointed textures inherent in the idea, and as the album proceeds, he finds a home with more ideas from blues to a more upbeat, kind of soul, almost “country” feel (in a good way). There’s even what sounds like the occasional presence of some brass instrumentation smoothly incorporated in.
Although the tale falls all over the place at times, First Taste feels like an encapsulation of Segall telling a story that’s fundamentally his own, which he makes pretty unsubtle when on the more bluesy offering “I Sing Them,” Segall shares: “I sing my song so I am free.” The earnestness, passion, and above all just humanity that he packs into the story he’s telling makes this album quite compelling. He doesn’t sound overly concerned with fitting into a box either as a person or as a musician. Instead, he’s exploring new sights and sounds, and we can come along.
One of the driving themes of his story seems to be that resigned acceptance to the tides of life doesn’t have to be quiet, and it doesn’t constitute “defeat.” Put a little differently, it’s alright to kind of sit back and check out the ride of life we’re on and even have a good time doing it, even if we also have to be dealing with issues like the infringement of our privacy and safety Segall sings about on the track “Radio.”
Musically, Segall keeps up the subtle but definitely present energy throughout the entirety of First Taste. While within a general rock framework, he’s embarking out into musical and emotional experimentation, the drive never leaves and it’s fittingly difficult to “fall off” this ride. At plenty of points, Segall just performs the music alone with no vocal accompaniment, and the substance gets a chance to shine. Ultimately, it feels difficult to categorize this record either musically or emotionally. Instead, it sticks with you, easily lending to repeated listens and excursions into the great sonic beyond from wherever you happen to be.