In the wake of Jay Reatard’s death in 2010, Ty Segall has picked up his mantle as rock’s foremost jack of all trades, unleashing torrents of snotty, solo-heavy, metal-inflected punk. His third album this year, Twins, is far from his finest work, but it extends the progressive bent of his latest efforts, showcasing an artist who’s still obsessed with the intricacies of his electric guitar, but also interested in pushing it into new styles.
The greatest difference between Segall and his late predecessor is that, while Reatard seemed content to toil away in the realm of two-minute run-and-gun assaults, Segall is intent on grafting the theatrical excess of heavy metal onto the slim skeleton of punk. He’s always been a technically oriented craftsman, and has become even more of one as he’s embraced more complex long-form structures, like on June’s Slaughterhouse. While that album focused on mining a single trenchant slice of hard rock, Twins runs roughshod all over the spectrum of what’s possible with an electric guitar, leaping from frenetic rock-n’-roll solo fests to stomping grunge romps and melodramatic metal ballads.
The scattershot presentation makes the album feel like a slimmer companion piece to the superior Slaughterhouse. Segall throws a lot of stuff against the wall to see what sticks, and not all of it does, but it’s still impressive that he’s capable of pumping out so much music in so many closely related veins without repeating himself. The range of styles he explores here represents a concentrated attempt to develop his sound, the same kind of explorative progression that pushed him from the simplistic atavism of his early work to the impressive complexity of Slaughterhouse.
So consider Twins a transitional effort, one that contains obvious wheelhouse material (“Thank God for Sinners,” “Love Fuzz”), but also the dawdling acoustic frippery of songs like “Gold on the Shore.” There’s the female voice that seems to promise “The Hill” will be a soft duet, but instead the song devolves into another rager, the backup vocals slowly sinking down in the mix. Segall is still far too enamored with the sounds of his own guitar, and many of these songs get sidetracked by rabbit-hole tangents, swaths of distortion, and chunks of generally disruptive noise. But Segall at least seems to be aware of the dead-end nature of this kind of myopic showmanship, and the curiosity he exhibits on Twins shows a real willingness to move beyond the narrow confines of distortion-blasted cock rock.