In June 2018 I’d just arrived onto the marina in Barcelona for the start of Primavera as Warpaint were halfway through their set on one of the two main stages. A bloke beside me, Dan, struck up a conversation and asked if I liked Warpaint. I said I thought they were okay. He agreed. I asked him where he was from, he said Bolton. I asked him which acts he was excited to see. He said, with real earnest and in a thick Trotter accent, ‘To be honest, pal, I’m just here for Ty Segall.’
He’d travelled all the way from Lancashire (Bolton’s historical and traditional county, I won’t have any of this ‘Greater Manchester’ bile) to see one artist perform. Now, I’d heard of people like this, die-hard fans who trot the globe, pursuant maniacs who can’t get enough of being in their idols’ presence, but an artist of Segall’s middling stature didn’t fit into this artist-fan relationship. I made a mental note to seek out this Ty Segall during my time in Catalonia, but never did (various obstacles got in the way).
It’s only now that I’m just coming round to Mr Segall, but he’s been around for years, with his first LP released in 2008. The 35-year-old Californian rocker defies that label in this latest outing, deviating heavily from the heavy rock reverberations of his last few albums. This one feels much more personal, and more of a solo endeavour. Indeed, many of the influences he intones in this record are artists who had successful solo careers following their group work. The auteur comes to the fore here, and much of the energy and pomp of Segall’s earlier work has been stripped back.
Segall’s new album “Hello, Hi”, faced some resistance from my ears at first. Why did this sound so convincingly like many all of my favourite artists – George Harrison and John Lennon (‘Looking at You’ is ‘Norwegian Wood’, Marc Bolan (In ‘Don’t Lie’, Segall mimics very well Bolan’s melodic wail), Led Zeppelin (‘Saturday, Pt.2’ progresses nicely like a classic Zeppelin number) – and did that matter?
After listening through the first half of the album it becomes clear that Ty Segall’s songwriting isn’t a mere tribute effort but threads in genuine influence from the aforementioned in order to blend something that sets the listener up for an enjoyable 34 minutes. It’s good, but it’ll sit on the wrong side of special for me.
Would I travel halfway across Europe, at great expense, to a music festival to see him and him only? No, I wouldn’t, and I can’t think why anybody else would either. But whilst listening to “Hello, Hi” on the day of its release, I knew Dan from Bolton would be listening too, maybe stretched out on a Ty Segall duvet cover in a picturesque Bolton suburb, or standing outside Ty Segall’s California house in the pouring midnight rain. How did that make me feel as I looked out the bus window as the vehicle inched past Euston station? Almost exactly the same as if I’d never met Dan, that’s why I’ve given it three stars.