Anyone who has tracked Ty Segall's creative evolution since he launched his solo career in 2008 has probably noticed that new elements regularly float into his eclectic musical worldview, but very little ever entirely goes away. His canvas has gotten broader and his color palette has expanded at each turn, and 2018's Freedom's Goblin finds him putting practically all of it to work. Freedom's Goblin is a sprawling and ambitious album, packing 19 songs into 75 minutes, and while its sheer size is impressive, what really sets it apart is the wealth of ideas springing forward in every track, as well as the strength of the execution. The noisy attack of Segall's guitar is still at the center of this music, as always, but there's a great deal else going on. Ben Boye's keyboards are bigger in the mix than before, bassist Mikal Cronin and drummer Charles Moothart are still the smartest and strongest rhythm section Segall's had to date, and the use of horns on several tracks gives these songs a big, bold feel. Emmett Kelly returns as a superb foil for Segall's exploratory guitar solos (there are a few jam-nific guitar duels that would bring a smile to plenty of classic rock fans), and the band is on fire from beginning to end; the homespun sloppiness of some of Segall's early efforts has given way to a focus that's tight without strangling the performances. (The crisp, clear recording by Steve Albini gives the performances a welcome assist.) The bold strut of the opening "Fanny Dog" connects like top-shelf garage punk played by the Mad Dogs & Englishmen band, the taut and buzzy cover of Hot Chocolate's 1978 disco smash "Every 1's a Winner" shows Segall and his band can cut the funk in their own way, "My Lady's on Fire" adds a dash of Laurel Canyon mellow vibes to the mix, "Talkin 3" suggests Segall and his crew have been listening to old James Chance records, "Meaning" charges out of the gate like a ramped-up version of vintage Black Sabbath, and the closing number, "And, Goodbye," sounds like the best Neil Young extended jam since "Don't Spook the Horse." Much of the time, Freedom's Goblin plays like Ty Segall's version of the history of rock & roll as seen from his perspective, and it's as idiosyncratic and exciting as you would expect. It's also some of the very best music Segall has given us to date, essential for fans and strongly recommended to curious newcomers.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming