Experimental multi-instrumentalist Ty Segall is known for genre-jumping. garage psychedelia, sludge metal, blues, punk, and now, neo-folk with his 13th studio album, Hello, Hi. Released from Drag City records on July 22, the cover features Ty crouching in a thicket of tree branches, ready to pounce.
The album begins with, “Good Morning,” a short tune fading-in to a slightly atonal guitar. Ty Segall’s voice is almost mimicking Thom Yorke’s but his chorus of, “Good Morning to you,” sounds like it was sourced from Rubber Soul. He layers his vocal harmonies with a series of ‘La’s before fading out.
“Cement” also features that slightly-off guitar, a chorus of “La La La’s,” and audio panning left and right. I’m curious if he is doing the vocal harmonies by himself or if other people are joining him. Either way, he’s knitting a cement sweater where “we won’t feel the rain, or any condensation.”
Track three is “Over,” a Western-inspired song. Drums are showcased here for the first time on this album. Ty‘s guitar playing always has a certain sway to it. Thematically, this song describes him in the world of music: “I don’t wanna start over… I wanna stay sideways.” That’s a good way of describing his work.
The title track begins with some warm up “La La La’s” before a surprising sludgy riff on electric guitar. We all know he would turn the fuzz pedal eventually, but he still provides a pleasant jolt. Kyuss distortion and Red Fang style bring us to a tasty solo. Even though this song is sludgy, his voice is the lightest it’s been on this record.
“Blue” and “Looking at You” feel extracted from previous sources but fresh at the same time. “Blue” has a Southern gothic, Western flare and sounds like it belongs in a gritty antihero movie. “Looking at You” again feels like mid-career Beatles, plus a dash of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and the Melvins. Very few people can make that combination work, and Ty makes that list.
“Don’t Lie” sees Segall giving a rousing pep talk: “Nights like this will uplift the heaviest of hearts/ Go out and shed your death.” His strumming is graceful and bright. And some parting advice from Ty: “You can lose yourself as long as the truth is with you/ Your Love will be good./ And don’t lie.” An honest musician and storyteller.
Saturday is a two-part saga by Mr. Segall. “Saturday Pt. 1” asks for your love to bring rain overlaying mysterious guitar threads and a suspicious vocal approach. “Pt. 2” sees the recurrence of the audio splitting. Ty’s nearly whispering his lyrics. A saxophone solo is the highlight of this track from frequent collaborator Mikal Cronin. The song’s construction and build leading up to the final melodic deviation is well-executed.
The final track on Hello, Hi is “Distraction,” another love song. “Sing me a distraction,” as Segall rejoices in sharing and creating music with a lover. Here we have tidbits of neo-psychedelia and neofolk. The song fades out, comes back with a “La La La” bit, fades again, and rebuilds with Ty’s layered vocals spelling out, “G-o-o-d-n-i-g-h-t.”
Hello, Hi is a jovial record. Love, adventure, honesty, creation, and more can be found within its run time. Ty Segall’s versatility and musicianship is second to none.