Ty Segall doesn’t rest. Or maybe he rests constantly except for a few times a year, when he puts on seemingly endless and remarkably consistent albums. His prolific releases, including this year’s Freedom’s Goblin showcase his high energy, turning out 1960s-influenced guitar rock that’s too proficient for the garage, but with a well-matched casual attitude. White Fence (Tim Presley, also of DRINKS, with their own release this year, too) doesn’t tend to take time off either, though he typically produces more restrained music influenced by psych and pop of the same period. Pairing these two together, which first happened on 2012’s Hair makes perfect sense, but new album Joy sounds more like a between-projects sort of toss-off rather than the solid record they could have made.

A relaxed attitude, even with dramatic playing, has always been part of Segall’s charm. That approach fails on Joy, where too many of the songs remain half-formed ideas. A few of the tracks, the 30 second “Rock Flute” and the half-that “Prettiest Dog” in particular – are silly interludes. The former relies on a weird song the duo must have stumbled on, and the latter only introduces a hook that could have become a proper song (though one that would have been too heavy for the tone of this album). Interludes themselves aren’t a problem, but over the course of a disc laden with brief thoughts, it just adds to the scattered feel.

Those quick ideas come mostly in songs that run two minutes or less. The songs, while mostly well executed, never develop. Opener “Beginning” (the title of which gives some sense of the album’s sensibilities) ends just as it takes shape, moving into the compatible “Please Don’t Leave This Town,” which also doesn’t get its legs. The following two tracks reveal the potential on the album. “Room Connector” sound like a prelude to a rock anthem from 50 years ago. Segall and Presley use it just like that, the chord changes late in the brief track setting up the riff for “Body Behavior,” a driving number with a touch of the Who in Segall’s strumming, but one that remains defined as a Ty Segall/White Fence creation. In just over two minutes, the song traces a clear path and makes a statement, with a nice crescendo at the end.

That’s the sort of tight and exciting pop songwriting that Segall and Presley can do at their best, even without showboating craft or technique. Individual moments do jump out on the record. “Grin Without Smile” features sharp playing. In the midst of a strong sequence, it would have been an impressive segue, but with it leading into the barking dog and lazy garage rock of “Other Way” it disappears from mind too quickly. The longer tracks don’t fare much better, with “She Is Gold” meandering far too long before finding its groove, and “My Friend” simply being too constrained for this ADHD album’s closing, even though its second half does pick up.

Both of those tracks reveal what could have been a fascinating album. On a scattered record, “She Is Gold” doesn’t make any sense with its slow wandering. Had the artists taken the time to put together a proper album, this track as well as “My Friend” might have worked better. All these snippets, even as they are, could have fit together as some kind of suite or multi-part track (why not go prog at this point?). Instead, we’re teased with what feels like the result of Segall and Presley hanging out for a fun weekend. Serious fans of either act will likely enjoy this one, but it can otherwise remain as an odd bit of trivia.

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