The secret to perfecting garage rock these days is to not be too informed by the past. Ty Segall and White Fence manage to create something that sounds undeniably indebted to the genre’s mid-1960s roots while simultaneously shattering the formula, here. While other garage bands seem contented with mere imitation, Segall and Tim Presley’s erratic, genre-bending interpretation of the sound is brazenly singular and strangely absorbing.
While traditional garage rock was defined by amateurism – basic chord structures distorted through fuzzboxes and unsophisticated lyrics – Segall and Presley take the sound somewhere completely new. This is garage rock entering 2018 – abstract, playful, smart and downright odd at times. There’s a method to sounding so familiar yet so confoundingly different and the varying temperaments of the two give the record nuance and a restlessness that feels intriguingly unstable. Respectively, Presley’s direction is sleepier and abstract, while Segall’s music is wilder and unrestrained. This unison works wonderfully on ‘Joy’, particularly on ‘She Is Gold’ where leisurely introspection turns into outright chaos.
The deceptive brevity works in the album’s favour, too. The 15 tracks – some no longer than 30 seconds – are over before you know it, giving you incentive to play it again and again, until every twist and turn begins to make sense. “Rock is dead,” they sing on ‘Hey Joel, Where You Going With That?’ – a tongue-in-cheek homage to Jimi Hendrix. Indeed, Ty Segall and Tim Presley sure know how to challenge that perception on ‘Joy’. For all its picking apart of rock’s history, there’s a peculiar newness to their music, and that’s a very rare thing when rock really is kind of dead.