I’m not sure if this is the result of some kind of vision our boy Ty had a few months back, but Sleeper is a little unexpected. Not unexpected in the sense that it’s happening (because we all know Ty Segall churns out albums like a teen picking zits) but unexpected in the sense that it doesn’t really sound like a Ty Segall album. It sounds like the Violent Femmes as senior citizens mixed with Fleetwood Mac. This is not the Ty Segall of 2008’s self-titled, who writes impossibly fast battle tracks like “Pretty Baby (You’re So Ugly),” or the Ty Segall of 2010’s Melted, who looks for hints of sunlight in his drunk swagger. But maybe he hasn’t been that Ty Segall for a while now, and maybe it’s time for him to be a new Ty Segall.
The album opens with its title track, “Sleeper,” which begins with a soft whistle before Segall becomes T. Rex with a sore throat, dabbling over soft guitars and a medley of strings. It’s a well-timed, relatively engaging track.The question isn’t whether this is a good album or not (with his near-constant output, Segall pretty much renders such black-and-white opinion irrelevant); what matters is if what we expect from Segall will prevent anyone from being able to stomach this new deep-fried twang rock, even if we’d probably gobble it from an unknown name.
Segall’s potentially superfluous reinvention also exposes itself in the fact that he seems to have developed some kind of elfin accent. This stands out most strongly on “Crazy,” in which Segall pronounces “here” like “heeyeh.” It’s a weirdly theatrical track, mainly because of his accent—the instrumentation is little more than an eager-to-please guitar and vocal harmonies. It’s like Rocky Horror at a Renaissance Faire. Similarly, “She Don’t Care” sounds like something off a Decemberists album because of its folk-stuffed nautical vibe, but it makes me think I might actually like Colin Meloy.
“The Man Man” is a step towards the old Ty-Guy. While other Sleeper tracks seem to be attempting to lull Moby Dick to sleep, “The Man Man” is a licked-raw cough-medicine lullaby that’ll make you too fuzz-filled to sleep. And towards the end of the track, Segall decides to actually plug his guitar into something.
Sleeper will probably be viewed in hindsight as “That kinda boring Ty Segall album.” It won’t really change anything though, because Segall will release something else before anyone has a chance to think about it. So nothing you just read matters so much. But seriously, where the fuck is that accent coming from?