10:52 AM CDT, July 6, 2012
3.5 stars (out of 4)
“Slaughterhouse” (In the Red) is the fourth album the ultra-prolific Ty Segall has released in the last 18 months, and it’s the best of the bunch. Each of his projects could be characterized as a low-fi variation on garage and psychedelic rock, but “Slaughterhouse” is especially notable for its single-minded allegiance to extremes: riffs that rock harder, climb higher and race faster until they threaten to break songs in half, and melodies so insistent they can withstand any sonic siege.
Segall indulges in guitar-based rock at its dirtiest, noisiest and nastiest. “Death” ends in a feedback storm. The vocals on the title track are essentially an increasingly agitated series of screams. A 1965 Fred Neil song, “That’s the Bag I’m In,” which has been covered by numerous “Nuggets”-era garage bands, is mutilated, Segall wailing like a troll assailing passersby from underneath a bridge. “Muscle Man” blows up surf music, and “Wave Goodbye” dives into the murky depths of primordial metal before revving up a machine-gun riff.
And, yet, Segall plants plenty of hooks inside the shrieks and spasms. The conflicting impulses playing out in “Slaughterhouse” suggest a comic-book war for supremacy: Good vs. Evil, Light vs. Dark, the Left Side of Segall’s Brain vs. the Right Side of Segall’s Brain. He’s got a soft spot for ‘60s acid-pop jangle and bubblegum bounce, as evidenced by “I Bought My Eyes” and “Tell Me What’s Inside,” where the melody fights chaos to a draw. “Fuzz War” wraps things up with 10 minutes of ghost-like drone, a fitting aftermath to the short, sharp bursts of carnage that precede it.
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