City Paper is not for tourists
At age 23, the alarmingly prolific garagerock wunderkind Ty Segall seems to have prematurely reached middle age. “Mike D.’s Coke,” from last year’s Melted, was an adolescent diversion, but the songs on Goodbye Bread, Segall’s fifth full-length, articulate the concerns of a full-grown man. Thankfully, the more mature outlook doesn’t mean a drop-off in youthful enthusiasm. Goodbye Bread has all the vibrant energy of Segall’s past releases, but the hooks are catchier and the arrangements are more complex. Gone are the predicable garage-rock tropes and tape-hiss throwaways. In hindsight, his excellent Record Store Day EP on Goner Records—Ty Rex, a breathless take on a handful of T. Rex songs—served as a harbinger of his ever-evolving sound. The EP showcased Segall’s talent for dramatic hooks and a glam-rock swagger that wasn’t as evident on prior recordings.
Segall practically sounds like a man of a certain age when he sings of domesticity and furnishings on “Comfortable Home (A True Story)”: “She said she wants to buy a couch/ I said why do we have to buy the couch/I understand why.” The slow-building strummer doesn’t actually push for an ownership society quite as much as W. did, but it does serve as a solid rock-song counterpoint to The Kinks’ “Shangri La.” The lyrics to “Shangri La,” written by Ray Davies, skewered middle-class domestic ambitions with the facile smugness and self-certainty exclusive to the young (although, at 25, Davies was two years older than Segall now). “Comfortable Home (A True Story),” on the other hand, is a refreshingly earnest story of a rocker trying to be a provider as well. When he sings, “I would like to buy you a comfortable home,” there is no trace of bourgeois guilt or irony.
Despite the sunny acoustic strumming on “I Am With You,” Segall does his best grumpy get-off-my-lawn bit, singing “I’m sick of the trophies/I’m sick of the kids” before compiling a long list of other things that sicken him. But his crankiness is only temporary; he experiences a peaceful, psychedelic epiphany by mid-song. The songwriter still has a crazy side to go with his newfound adult outlook. Goodbye Bread’s standout track “My Head Explodes” sparkles with some of that Bolan-esque brass that he hinted at on Ty Rex. The song masterfully builds up to such a catharsis that the listener may very well feel like one of the victims in Cronenberg’s 1981 head-splosion classic, Scanners. “The Floor” begins with a nice start-stop flamenco gesture that would’ve sounded at home on Love’s Da Capo. Goodbye Bread is easily one of the best records I’ve heard this year. Segall may be a mere stripling in terms of age, but Goodbye Bread, both sonically and lyrically, is proof that he’s become a grown-ass man.