A commonly attached word to Ty Segall is ‘prolific’. It’s a little bit unfair considering it’s more than just quantity over quality for him. In the case of his solo output under the name of Ty Segall, each album saw him dip his toes into different stylistic waters, from psychedelic rock to acoustic ballads with a bit of glam thrown into the mix. Then there was Fuzz; Segall put down his guitar in favour of the sticks to play in a full-on, gritty, face-melting trio rounded of by Charlie Moonheart (guitar) and Chad Ubovich (bass).
The results on their second album, II, are not much different from their self-titled debut except it’s clear Segall’s actually had more time to put into songwriting. Not only is the album longer, the songs take time to develop. Opener ‘Time Collapse pt. II / The 7th Terror’ starts off with the sound of a vinyl being scratched and chopped up under a needle which then segues into a barrage of low-end bass and guitar, amplifier gain turned up to a level that shouldn’t even be legal. The outcome is not so much fuzz as muck, grimier than a Dr. Ooze Special. Later on, Moonheart’s solo is classic rock shredding, not particularly overflowing with novelty but definitely headbanging. Before the song ends, there’s a riff change to something with a bluesier rhythm (though without a blue note), Segall snapping away on the snares and crash cymbals.
Second song ‘Rat Race’ has a fever-paced riff that actually wouldn’t sound out of place on a Black Keys album. Comparisons end there though, as Fuzz are darker than anything the duo have ever put out. Segall’s voice is menacing, completely reflecting the type of vocals one would expect from an album cover featuring drowning people, scorpions, and tombstones. On ‘Bringer Of Light’ he actually drags on the last syllable of each verbs (such as ‘millions of cries while we die’), vibrato-ing with a screeching guitar as if a harbinger of doom wanted to serenade you before bedtime. It doesn’t quite reach black or even heavy metal status though, Segall only screaming on ‘Red Flag’, a sub-two minute blistering declaration that he’s your nightmare.
Perhaps the biggest criticism that II might attract is its lack of variety. The title track is emblematic of Fuzz: a 14-minute long odyssey of blending juicy bass, frantic guitar, and spazzed out drums together. That said, there are some gems that make the album worth getting into. Consciously perhaps, Fuzz take out the venom from the introductions of ‘Say Hello’ and ‘Burning Wreath’ – the former light on guitar fuzz and the latter actually as clean as a syringe needle (that is to say, things always get messier later on). My personal highlight is ‘Rat Race’ which features ferocious strings attacked with intensity, accelerating like a deranged maniac on a highway. You can even imagine seeing the white of Segall’s eyes. Rock on.
II is out October 23 on In the Red Records. Fuzz will be in Montreal on November 17 at Le National.