Psychedelic rock’s wunderkinds, Ty Segall and Tim Presley (aka White Fence), are back with their second collaborative album, Joy. The fifteen tracks on this record vary in style, tempo and attitude. From the rhythmic foundations of “Beginning,” to the classic Ty sound found on “Good Boy,” to the downright bizarre creative decisions for which the pair are well known (check out the briefly interstitial “Rock Flute”), Joy is a much-needed return to form following 2012s Hair.
What makes Joy worthwhile is not in its density or ideas, of which there are many, but in its near-perfect vision combination of creators Segall and Presley. Their collective weirdisms and virtuosity make for some thought-provoking listens, and while Joy is ostensibly Hair’s sibling, it plays like a freewheeling younger brother. The compact songwriting of “Hey Joel, Where You Going With That?” reflects a heightened understanding of collaboration and the mechanics of music making; the combined stylings of both artists see the light in concurrence, and while the record can come across as an overwhelming pile of loosely strung together rock murmurations, it’s in this density that they make their mark.
Both Segall and Presley have released their own individual albums in 2018. Segall’s Freedom’s Goblin received great acclaim for its equal parts ambition and control, while Presley’s second outing as DRINKS (with Cate Le Bon) created an album called Hippo Lite, further punctuated his blissfully skewed penchant for writing melodies. The combined result of their 2018 creative efforts is enough foretelling of Joy’s content.
From the aptly titled “Beginning” to its fifteenth and final track, “My Friend,” Joy is a cyclical affair: the album’s opening notes return at its conclusion. The material in between these bookends has the ability to both polarize and provoke fans of both artists. There are soon-to-be-classic Segall/White Fence tracks such as the aforementioned “Hey Joel” and “My Friend,” as well as some tracks that should be forgotten (“Prettiest Dog,” for one). “Room Connector” does exactly what it set out to do: connect the strange rooms of the album’s second and fourth tracks, and “She Is Gold” signals a remarkable level of self-control from some of rock’s biggest eccentrics.
A remarkably diverse affair, Joy, for better or worse, must be considered a landmark collaborative release in the genre. These two have further established themselves in the annals of psych-rock history in one of the year’s most seamless albums.