“Our salivating makes it all taste worse,” croons Ty Segall in the first salvo of First Taste. He’s talking about us: how we’re the masters of our own destiny, tellers of our own prophecy, makers of our own sickened choices. It’s a warning, but this time, the finger is pointing back at him too. He’s one with us.
Contradictions are rife. First Taste is an introspective set after the extroversions of Freedom’s Goblin — yet just as steeped in party beats somehow, even as Ty trails through his back pages, reflecting on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures. Feeling, like it was the first time, the duplexity of core truths. Lines of struggle wind through the songs. “My life is a mystery / I’d look inside but I can’t see,” as one goes — and yet, such promisingly oblique reflections act to unravel the onion, lifting the veil. Ty skates through oneness, self-esteem, the parents — all the joys of a rain-filled childhood — while reaching outward in the here and now, feeling for a shared pulse. To go on, we need to feel it.
These are serious indoor moods, but with Ty, there’s a moment that always comes, a joke or something to crack the bubble and let some air in. It all comes together with volcanic energy — who knows what it means? One disaster ends another; mudslides down the hills into gaping canyons, freeways blocked, the sky filled with smoke. Then we go on.
Meanwhile, the sounds — what are they? This production is INSANE, far-out, stranger than known, tones and rhythms that expand before our ears. These colors are weird. Together, they float like a flag, flashing binary lines like sirens to our eyes. There’s tons of drums, and acoustic . . . . things of all kinds. Horns, synth pads. Pianny. Boiling overtime, Ty’s creative juices suggested that First Taste be written and executed with some radical new instrumentation — koto, recorder, bouzouki, harmonizer, mandolin, saxophones and brass, voices, and sure, a sprinkling of keys. And the drumkit(S!), a position Ty occupies whenever it’s heard on the left speaker, while Freedom Band drummer (and SO much more) Charles Moothart plays the kit on the right side. Those two get DOWN together. Whatever the mood is, the pedal is pushed cleanly to the metal — and that means to the max of the lightest ballads ever, OR through the most raging rocks yet. Ty’s vocal prowess, always a highlight, sits in fresh relief against his mutant orchestra, spooling tension through some of his most patient songs, his feral scream in complete control. Taking us through it.
First Taste is arch, full of high-energy jams, with a thing in each mix always insistently different. Ty’s song design’s all over the place — not even a surprise anymore — but unlike the freewheeling feast style of Freedom’s Goblin, these twelve numbers form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound that focuses thoughts. First Taste isn’t really the first for Ty, or you or me. But for the latest, it’s a remarkably fresh taste. Maybe it’s the first for today — and when tomorrow is today, then too.