As odd as its title
Well, well, well, here on this reviewer’s to-do-list lies an album entitled Fudge Sandwich by Ty Segall, a name of indie fame (and a man with a prolific album output), and after several listens, his opinion remains stagnant. Segall covers the following artists (in track order): War, The Spencer Davis Group, John Lennon, Funkadelic, The Dils, Neil Young, Gong, Amon Duul II, Rudimentary Peni, Grateful Dead, and Sparks. Let’s walk through and see what he learned about this album.
A few cowbells click into the opening track and we start wondering why the synth bass honks so. The trio of cabasa (a shaker), cowbell and synth bass sits as unpleasantly as eggs abandoned sloshing around and sticking to the hot pan. Did no one care to supervise them? Were they all on the same page? And who wants eggs at 12:02 AM? “Lowrider” doesn’t answer these questions. Instead, it serves as the cover of the popular tune, but, you know, as if it was locked away in a nightmare sequence comparable to the chocolate tunnel/river in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Just why is he whispering, who asked for the space junk sounds and man, who hurt you? Well, progress only happens forwards so onto track two.
“I’m A Man” is the drunken babbling of a man who is eloquent sober, but drunk, a lackluster nub. “Perhaps the character in the song is intentionally piggish?” wonders the man with the hands typing at an average speed. “Hmm, okay maybe the next song will make more clear the sound that this Segall fellow is going for,” ponders the same reviewer. After the nightmare vibes return (thank you, totally necessary guitar screeching), it becomes clear that no more time need be spent on track two.
His ears eager for either some musical cohesiveness or a change of pace, he etches a smile into bearded face upon hearing “Isolation.” [“Isolation” speaking now] “I would first like to thank the Academy of Segall for writing me a redeeming guitar line, one that follows and nicely outlines the chords for the ears of those listening. This is really a beautiful honor and I will not forget to think of a better acceptance speech if I actually win an award. Thanks for listening, bedroom mirror.” Truthfully though, he happily found that it is in the top three of this album, if not the singular top. But, the ear was scoffed at the ending, but hey, Tarantino didn’t make “Pulp Fiction” eight times.
Wondering where the album will meander next, he struggles to pick out the lyrics of “Hit it and Quit it” while detecting tones of a limping “American Woman.” He notes that this is odd, yet a tad closer in sound/feel to “Isolation.” His musical chompers come biting down easily with “Class War,” the expectedly politically-fueled tune that seems just, comfy. However, the ease of this number makes the punk elements or, you know, the weird, Island-of-Misfit-Toys elements of this album extra puzzling; Ty Segall is the one kid in class that no one can figure out, and it seems like we’d rather be able to figure him out than leave him alone.
Tossed about between musical styles and proximity to the bullseye, he is unsure of what will follow “Class War,” and, to his chagrin, the river punk flows heavily through “The Loner.” It reminds the listeners that songs are supposed to contain music and lyrics, and succeeds if that was its only job. Yet it does not appear to benefit the album. Sigh.
“Pretty Miss Titty,” lives up to its first name and strolls right into open arms. Yet the lack of cohesiveness across the oddly named Fudge Sandwich remains. Huh. While he wonders about the scope of the album overall, he gets to enjoy the calm, pensiveness of “Miss Titty.” Hmm.
Hindsight would’ve warned the reviewer for the trio that comes next, seeing that the words “thrashy,” “unpleasant” and “panicked” come to mind for each song, respectively. Hardly a difference to be found between “Archangel Thunderbird,” “Rotten to the Core” and “St. Stephen,” although they do evoke Segall’s anger/repressed emotions well. Self-expression seems to frolic freely in Fudge Sandwich, but artistic vision? Not so much. He wonders now if expecting the fullest of both categories is too much of an ask.
For these ears, the closer, “Slowboat,” rides the headwinds towards a happy ending, much like the final push for the title character in The Truman Show after he braves man-manipulated waters to escape. An ending not as glorious as Jim Carrey’s best, but the album does end well, and this sassy reviewer would be a fool not to comment on that.
Uncertainty is everywhere, especially in places where we want to be firm in our decisions. Admittedly, this was a weird project (and a weird review let’s be real), and it is unlikely that it will fully please a large population due to its stylistic jumps and lack of cohesiveness. But repeating can often weaken the message so this reviewer will sign off. Try to keep an open mind, and know that you can’t like ‘em all.