Ty Segall: Three Bells [Album Review]

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Ty Segall
Three Bells
Drag City Records [2024]


Album Overview: Following his 2022 acoustic album, “Hello, Hi,” Three Bells takes Ty Segall on a deeper, wilder journey into the center of self. Ty is known for never making the same album twice, and this record represents a more profound and adventurous expansion of his continually evolving musical ideas. The album plays with a sense of free form in places, featuring more expansive songs that are both ambitious and risk-taking. Three Bells sees Ty bringing back the electric guitar on all the tracks, and he takes on the drums for 14 out of the 15 songs.

Musical Style: The musical style of Three Bells is characterized by well-thought-out and sophisticated indie rock. It can be experimental at times, with several vocal alterations, yet it never ventures too far into avant-garde territory. Ty explores a diverse range of sounds, using guitars that function like voices and engaging in a questioning and answering dialogue. The song “Move” is the only track featuring his regular bandmates Mikal Cronin and Charles Moothart, with his wife Denee taking on lead vocals. Emmett Kelly’s bass is featured more prominently in four songs, and Ben Boye’s keys make occasional appearances. The rest is all Ty.

Evolution of Sound: Three Bells represents a subtle shift in Ty Segall’s sound, moving beyond the acoustic introspection of his previous album. While Ty typically writes with his guitar in hand, he also used the drums as a key element in the songwriting process, pushing compositional boundaries. Co-producer Cooper Crain, whose contributions to Harmonizer and “Hello, Hi” were significant, engineered and mixed most of the album, infusing his unique vision into the process. Some songs, as written, required the kind of playing that Ty couldn’t achieve alone.

Artists with Similar Fire: Ty Segall’s musical style in Three Bells draws on influences comparable to artists who consistently experiment with eclectic sounds and diverse musical landscapes. Artists with a similar approach to blending genres and exploring musical diversity include King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Tame Impala, and Thee Oh Sees. Despite these broader influences, Ty maintains a strong solo musician presence akin to Jack White, David Nance, and Ron Gallo.

Pivotal Tracks: Towards the end of the album, “Wait” stands out with its pleasant harmonizing beginning before transitioning into a gritty bass riff courtesy of Kelly, ultimately shredding to an intense ending. The opening track, “The Bell,” serves as a perfect introduction, switching personas several times within its 5-minute runtime, offering both subdued and guitar-rock moments. Additionally, “My Room” is recommended for its solid slice of indie rock, showcasing Ty’s prowess in delivery.

Lyrical Strength: The lyrical strength of Three Bells lies in Ty Segall’s exploration of personal expression and self-discovery. The album delves into existential questions, ego deaths, and the pursuit of acceptance. Thought-provoking lines such as “The point where we begin and die; There is no separation.” grab the listener’s attention, while phrases like “Out there it’s too busy; It’s easier inside my room.” provide a strong conclusion, offering insight into the head space Ty currently occupies.

“Hello, Hi” (2022) / Harmonizer (2021) / Segall Smeagol EP (2020) / Pig Man Lives Volume 1 (2019) / First Taste (2019) / Deforming Lobes (2019) / Fudge Sandwich (2018) / Fried Shallots EP (2017) / Freedom’s Goblin (2018) / Ty Segall (2017) / Emotional Mugger (2016) / Ty Rex (2015) / Mr. Face EP (2015) / Live In San Francisco (2015) / $ingle$ 2 (2014) / Manipulator (2014) / Gemini (2013) / Sleeper (2013) / Twins (2012)

FUZZ: III (2020) / Wasted Shirt: Fungus II (2020) / The C.I.A.: The C.I.A. (2018) / GØGGS: Pre-Strike Sweep (2018) /Joy (w/ White Fence) (2018) / GØGGS: GØGGS (2016) / FUZZ: II (2015) / Reverse Shark Attack (w/ Mikal Cronin) (2013) / FUZZ: FUZZ (2013) / The Traditional Fools: The Traditional Fools (2013)

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Christopher Anthony
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