Let’s lay it out straight: Ty Segall is one of the most captivating artists in rock music today. I feel ridiculously little need to qualify or explain that statement. If you’re in need of convincing, listen through this year’s exciting and diverse releases…and then realize how much more there is out there. That’s not to be reductionist and say that Fuzz is yet another Segall-driven project. In fact, it’s to draw attention to the conscious choice he made to invite more people into the process and to undergo both subtle and significant changes (see: the much-cited guitar to drums transition on this record). But in any project that bears his name, Ty and his teammates never lose sight of his number-one talent: the ability to write music that’s super fucking fun to listen to.
Fuzz fits right in with the high-energy thrash that bats around Segall-lovers’ skulls, but rounds its namesake sound into something fuller, bigger, badder and just as fun. It’s like garage rock gone classic – re-imagined as early 80s, Sabbath-style metal or power pop. And similar to your mom and pop’s hairspray rock of yesteryear, it’s a sound that cannot be achieved alone, but has to be built in perfected, blown-out layers. Ty’s band mates deliver. Throughout the record, Roland Cosio lays down punishing bass lines that hit as hard as hammer thuds while a member of Ty Segall’s touring band, guitarist Charles Moothart, steps more prominently into the spotlight with dominating riffs that drive Fuzz’s head-spinning heavy-heavy.
While Ty’s teamed up with other Ty Segall Band member, Mikal Cronin, on a number of occasions, Charles Moothart arguably does more with his Segall alone time. Instrumentally, you might enter Fuzz paying more attention to the percussion to try out Ty – a test he will definitely pass – but there’s no way you’ll make it past the first minute without getting swept up in Moothart’s riffs and following his pied-piper magic for the rest of the record.
Fuzz goes for the hardcore with the same mystical spirit of its ancestors. “Earthen Gate” starts it off with a sinister stutter leading into a tiptoeing trepidation that is softly, slowly undercut by a more mellow jam – a fantastic lull that crashes in physical, tangible waves, built so that when it does finally unleash its fierce, heavy, surge, it’s pure release. Segall’s cutting high-pitches seem to scream from stormy skies, shooting lightning bolts down unto the world in an overdrawn rock ’n roll so heavy it sounds like Tenacious D’s wet dream.
But beyond the cartoon black magic, the truly mesmerizing part of Fuzz is watching these three musicians come together to create their amazingly well-orchestrated wall of sound. “Loose Sutures” drops off in the middle to let each member of the trio solo. It’s a Led Zeppelin-like gesture that marks the apex of garage rock – where all of the musicians playing are so skilled they can just break it down on their own while the rest of the band leaves the stage to sop up the sweat. In the standout slow-burner “What’s in My Head?” the trio is showcased in another, less ostentatious and more important way: as a tight-knit group who, though they jam, fit together so smoothly it’s like each is an individual gear, greased up and shining, turning seamlessly to churn out pure and timelessly tough tunes.