Ty Segall spent so much of 2018 cranking out albums and bringing the rock in a big way that one can forgive him for slowing down a bit and turning the volume down in 2019. First Taste sounds like that's just what Segall chose to do. It's a more tuneful and less aggressive set of songs than Freedom's Goblin, Joy, or Fudge Sandwich, with Segall easing up on his monolithic guitar attack and focusing more on pop melodies and folk-rock structures in his songs and arrangements. However, Segall sure hasn't cut back on his love of psychedelia, and First Taste finds him having a great deal of trippy fun, playing with unusual sonics and enjoying the possibilities of the recording process. The mass of overdubbed harmony vocals on "Ice Plant" give playful structure to Segall's pleas to "let your love rain down on me"; the dueling right channel/left channel drum solos on "The Fall" are a rare example of using two drummers at once being a good idea; and the airy mandolins in "The Arms" and "I Sing Them" add a bright, summertime feel to the tunes, especially when they interact with the buzzy tone of Segall's guitar in the former and the wobbly flutes in the latter. First Taste also confirms that Segall hasn't given up rocking, even if he's in more subtle form here, and "Taste" and "The Fall" give him plenty of room to wail on guitar and drums and work up a healthy sweat. First Taste is the work of a man who clearly isn't afraid of spending some time and effort realizing his vision: Segall plays the majority of the instruments here, and the performances and production are full bodied and adventurous, full of life and bubbling over with ideas. In short, First Taste isn't an especially loud or heavy Ty Segall album, but his creative signatures are here in a big way, and it's truly impressive that he not only cranks out so many albums, but that they're consistently strong without rehashing old ideas. At a time when too many people are questioning if rock & roll is alive at all, Segall is doing the work of four or five people in keeping it healthy, and First Taste is ample evidence that he's nowhere close to being done, which is good news indeed.
First Taste Review
by Mark Deming