Dizzying eclecticism and hot-footed genre-hopping have long been defining traits of Ty Segall‘s work. The rate of his output over the past decade or so has been hard to keep up with; the amount of material he’s released only rivalled by the variety of it. In many ways, ‘Freedom’s Goblin’ feels like the distilled essence of Segall‘s work-ethic, funnelled into one expansive 75 minute album. Although it was squeezed onto one CD, the vinyl version is spread over two discs and, in terms of grandiose ambition and artistic excess, this feels very much like a double effort rather than a single. Although generalisations are difficult to make when it comes to Segall‘s output, his previous albums often saw him exploring a handful of new ideas in-depth, rather than jumping around from one style to another – giving those albums a certain sense of cohesion. Oftentimes the eclecticism of his work came not from individual albums so much as his discography as a whole.
His approach has changed on ‘Freedom’s Goblin’, though. Whereas, before, the tone and approach of one of his records was reasonably easy to grasp – be it punky garage, psych-folk, glam angst or barnstorming fuzz rock – here things are less easily definable. Although the opening one-two punch of ‘Fanny’s Dog’ and ‘Rain’ suggest the album to be Segall‘s take on early seventies rock – adorned as they are with era-appropriate horns and piano – the sleaze-ridden falsetto groove of ‘Every 1’s A Winner’ takes the album down a wholly different path. It soon becomes clear that ‘Freedom’s Goblin’ differs from its predecessors by way of condensing the, at times, bewildering adventurousness of Segall‘s entire discography into one rather unwieldy jumbo-sized album.
Nowhere else in his discography does Segall jump quite so readily between styles, the fuzz-drench power-pop-come-punk adrenaline shot of ‘When Mommy Kills You’ followed in quick succession by the Marc Bolan-indebted glittery folk rock of ‘My Lady’s On Fire’ – an influence he more overtly explores on 2015’s ‘Ty Rex’ covers LP. The ’90s styled alt-rock stomp of ‘Shoot You Up’ and the slinky electro-rock of ‘Spoiler Of Cadaver’ only add to the album’s plentiful diversity.
It’s a perhaps inevitable side-effect of such a varied approach that a degree of cohesion and focus is sacrificed in Segall‘s relentless quest for eclecticism – ‘Freedom’s Goblin’ suffers, to some degree, from the classic double album malady of too-much-of-a-good-thing. Honestly, the issue lies not so much in a perceived inconsistency – as the album remains remarkably consistent in terms of quality throughout – as there simply being so much to get through that its impact is dulled somewhat by the end. Having said that, its length doesn’t considerably hamper the album and although it may have been prudent to cut a few of the less outstanding tracks, even at a hefty 19 songs, ‘Freedom’s Goblin’ remains a convincing, worthwhile listen.
That the album offers a deep sense of reward to those who put in the time to get know it should be of no surprise. By its very nature, such a multifarious, lengthy record boasts a greater degree of depth than many others and even at their most compact, Segall‘s past efforts have invited and rewarded repeat play.
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‘Freedom’s Goblin’, then, is an interesting proposition. Arguably more flawed than Segall‘s best efforts, the album nonetheless impresses with a convincing and involved collection of songs which certainly never risk boring the listener. Although those with less patience for his artistic indulgences may argue that this album could do with some pruning, ‘Freedom’s Goblin’ remains surprisingly engaging throughout and offers a huge amount to dig into for long-term fans whilst still managing to offer an, admittedly unwieldy, introduction to Segall‘s multi-faceted musical approach to newcomers. ‘Freedom’s Goblin’ is the same kind of adventurous, refreshing listen we’ve come to expect from Segall and, for that alone, it’s worthy of applause.
‘Freedom’s Goblin’ is out now on Drag City. The full track listing is…
01. Fanny Dog
03. Every 1’s a Winner
04. Despoiler of a Cadaver
05. When Mommy Kills You
06. My Lady’s On Fire
09. Cry Cry Cry
10. Shoot You Up
11. You Say All the Nice Things
12. The Last Waltz
15. Talkin 3
16. The Main Pretender
17. I’m Free
18. 5 Ft. Tall
19. And, Goodnight