Psychedelic, gritty and real
Laguna Beach, California, is home to several tiny “secret” beaches littered along the sidewalks and was once home to artists, hippies, surfers and Ty Segall. The Orange County native released a surprise full-length album, Harmonizer—an odd but riveting mix of electronic, alien-like sounds with a slight feeling of dread (via a heavy-handed, loud, growling guitar). While Laguna Beach no longer harbors a rich artist and hippie community—due to the cost of living there becoming more and more expensive—Segall has made sure to hold on to it.
Right off the bat, the opening song, “Learning,” pulls the listener into a sound filled with funky electronic beats. The sound is almost hard to place, but before the listener tries to figure it out, “Whisper” takes over. “Whisper” takes form in a sweep of psychedelic ’70s, as well as a twang of Muse. It’s colorful and definitely not a whisper by any means. It’s loud, weird and catchy.
Beyond “Whisper” lies the title track “Harmonizer.” This song features amazing imagery in its lyrics. The song opens with, “watch the words slip, drip and roll down, from the sound to the tip of your tongue now.” The rather mundane act of talking or singing is taken to the next level with these lyrics, as Segall goes in-depth with his descriptive writing. The lyrics certainly make this song stand out.
At some points in the album, the listener will find themselves transcending to another plane of reality, which can be heard in the song “Pictures.” This track works hard to bring together good lyrics, vocals and a stellar beat. The lyrics “live my memory” play out over small rolling drum beats and guitar. Soon these background sounds take over towards the middle of a song, in a slight break from lyrics. It builds up, creating a different song altogether, a slower song. The taste of ’70s guitar and indie electronics fade out into the distance as the song comes to an end.
This sound comes alive again, however, with the opening of “Ride,” a short, electronic-based track as opposed to “Waxman,” which sounds more rock than anything else. There’s no other way to describe “Waxman” besides cool. The guitar doesn’t crawl along as it usually does with the other songs in this album, but rather, it builds up and constantly stays at a high.
The album ends with “Changing Contours,” which has an opening beat similar to “Pony” by Ginuwine, made famous, of course, by the movie Magic Mike. Its electronic beats, in the beginning, create a deep, repeated sound that quickly turns into something else entirely. The guitar is used in this song to create a sound that is so electronic that it almost doesn’t sound like the instrument at all, creating almost a trumpet sound. This mysterious, hard-to-place sound closes out the album.
Harmonizer was a surprise release, but it definitely was a good surprise. Each song crawls to the other, creating new sounds inspired by old ones. Segall’s sound is original and odd, but not afraid to be so, making it an album to be proud of.