Ty Segall is a long time contributor to garage rock culture, but on his eleventh album First Taste, he broadens his horizons to include new instruments and thematic focuses. We witness a psychedelic symphony of double drums, synths, and strings which work equally together as they do apart. All of this conflict both in lyrics and composition contributes to the hellish sound which Segall aims for. It’s a pleasant step up from the expectations I had for the album.
The first song on the record is “Taste.” It begins with a hissing sound, almost like that of a garden sprinkler. It quickly develops into a wild, static, percussion piece captained by Segall’s signature vocals. By signature, I mean overpowering, theatrical, and bold. These vocals carry over to the albums second piece, “Whatever.” “Whatever” is made to sound swampy and soulful by means of heavy bass and synth. The albums beginnings highlight Segalls talent for arrangement and flare for the dramatic.
Segall begins to slow things down on the third track with “Ice Plant.” “Ice Plant” is an almost entirely vocal piece which creates a sharp contrast with what we’ve already heard from the album. It’s deeply reflective, colorful, and melancholy. The end of the song is perhaps my favorite part. Segall draws you out with ghostly notes of piano that fade in and out. “Ice Plant” is resemblant of a modern “Perfect Day.”
One of the highest peaks on the album is “The Arms.” Segall introduces us to an iconic string riff which carries the song. It’s a spiritual, curious, and melodic piece with ethereal lyrics to match. “So I jump into the ocean just like a baby. I wake up blue again.” Segall takes us on a journey of self-worth and liberation on the albums sixth number.
The record concludes with “Lone Cowboys,” a compositionally stunning final thought for First Taste. Segall masters the effect of a slow build. The song begins with soft flute, and mellow humming which metamorphosizes into a manic string and percussion tune over time. Solidifying the message of self-power, Segall writes “and when you reach it, make sure it’s whole. When you feel it, you’re all alone.” Segall brings back the art of storytelling in music which is often overlooked in the modern arena. First Taste is a record that sings to the soul. Segall is methodical about every flutter of synth and pluck of string on this record. It’s clear that the artist has stepped out of the garage and into the wilderness.