As they do, musicians will wander off their path of what we’re used to and surprise us with something that separates itself distinctly from the rest. Like a sore thumb, Ty Segall’s latest album Sleeper stands out as something completely out of his realm. Differentiating itself from the likes of last year’s thrash-and-roll efforts Slaughterhouse, Twins and Hair with Cali pals White Fence, the new album stares blankly at a white wall as it is swallowed into a daydream-like atmosphere. From the shadows, Segall has released his inner calamity into the light of some of his most recent family issues. The death of his step-father and the following turmoil with his mother has shuffled this garage punk right back to the hum of his acoustic guitar. And for a record so dissimilar to his previous repository, it surprisingly comes off as easy to digest.

We got a taste of opening song ‘Sleeper’ in a 37 second Youtube advert this May, which only made me crazy to listen to the full thing. Sweetly sung, the title track oozes comfort with its delicately placed falsettos and haunting lyricism.  A song so closely sewn to the patchwork of his earlier work, ‘Sweet C.C.’  channels Marc Bolan in the most perfect T. Rex tribute, (not to forget that Segall has released two LPs in dedication of the late psychedelic sanctity, Ty Rex and Ty Rex II) so it’s really no shock that the influences are so clearly visible.

I took a different path with this record and decided to take it one song at a time. One track a day for ten days as an experiment. Obviously killing me not to hear the whole album, one-a-day became a pleasant gift, a morning wake up call to a day in the life of someone else actually going through something shitty and not pretending everything is alright. Drag City has stated that no videos or singles were to be released before Sleeper awoke, as they wanted it to be listened to as a whole, each song complementary to the next in a sort of story.  Before I knew anything about the truth, about the family hard times and the all around dampening nature this release has been flooded with since it’s been reviewed by the rest of the internet, it was easy enough to connect with. I didn’t want to know what it was about; I wanted to figure it out for myself and listening to the lyrics, what I learned was that I wasn’t far off from realising what’s going on.

Song titles like ‘Crazy’ and ‘She Don’t Care’ artfully reflect the actions of his mother, a bold statement that reigns true to the punk spirit – “tell it how it is”. ‘The Keepers’ soulfully echoes ‘Sleeper’ in its vocal sediment as a key track on the record – the tepid lyrics, “Look in the mirror, see what you see / Be what you be/ Lonely you know what you’ve done”, and, “We live here now and it smells of death”, direct themselves distantly from what you’d expect from the sunny skies of California, thus proving that nowhere is sanctimonious anymore – so I guess we can all relate.

Folksy in its best efforts, the awkward twang of ‘The West’ becomes a passover for me, but is taken over with the blues-infused acoustic dynamite that surrounds both ‘6th Street’ and ‘The Man Man’ at its halfway mark, as if it wasn’t evident enough that the album was screaming for a guitar solo. We drift into the impending destruction of ‘Queen Lullaby’, remindful of 2011’s Goodbye Bread at best and the perfect close to his latest studio album.

For me, whatever Ty says goes. He’s an inspiration, a motivator and a bunch of other junk jammed into one fuzz-droned box.  Was I disappointed with this record? No. But it’s not what I had expected from his only solo album of 2013. It’s a compilation of tracks that you have to be in the right mood to listen to, and dare I say it, a morose mood. Sleeper is for the bold and really, it is no more than Ty’s heart worn on his ruffled sleeve. So, just relax on the pillows of this record, and accept it gratefully and silently for what it is – whatever you want to think it is. I’ve said my piece.

7 out of 11

Release Date 19/08/2013 (Drag City)

Ty Segall Official | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Youtube

Brit Jean

One time time Gigs Editor over here at Silent Radio HQ. I've been music blogging and writing in Manchester for the past few years after graduating with a Literature degree back home in Canada. Never have I experienced a city quite like Manchester - so many great gigs and so little time! In 2014 I started an Independent Record label, Blak Hand Records with my best mate, and we aim to put out some of our favourite garage rock and psychedelic artists from both Liverpool and Manchester.