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Fuzz: III

It feels like an eternity since the last Ty Segall record. First Taste dropped in August 2019, but since then, the typical downpour of Segall music has turned into a light drizzle. Resurrecting his modestly appreciated garage-psych-rock band Fuzz for a third round seemed inevitable, but coming a whole five years after the last one does surprise in 2020. Fuzz was always going to sound like Ty Segall with a backup band, and that hasn’t changed on III. The talent incorporated — longtime collaborator Charles Moothart works the guitar, Chad Ubovich of Meatbodies handles the bass — all share vocal responsibilities, but it’s Segall who always dominates because of his sinister, almost nasally style.

The 2010s were very good to Segall, and he has a fortune of top-notch garage rock records to show for it. But today, with Fuzz specifically, Segall seems intent on mimicking the classic rock and heavy metal he adored from the ‘70s. There’s copious amounts of Black Sabbath dripping from every orifice of III. Pummeling drums by Segall open the record with “Returning,” as Segall scowls “Forward/ Forward/ Forward,” issuing a statement of intent for the band. It’s a little on the nose, but it works for their aesthetic.

The trio sounds as invigorated as ever, indicating the five-year break has done little to diminish their sound. The guitars still squeal as if Moothart is a millisecond away from a solo, but he brings it back for some warm grooves like on “Nothing People,” where he drives the licks home for a more 1950s “Johnny B. Goode”-style catharsis. The drums are standard though, something the multi-instrumentalist in Segall likes to show off from time to time. Most of his records are assisted by a band, but Segall can do it all like an everyman for garage rock.

All of this is great for those just looking for another batch of Segall jams — don’t worry, III’s got you covered. But anyone eager for some diversity in sound is likely to be left emptyhanded. Much of what Segall has done, whether it be with a band or by himself, has grown tiresome. Its guitar rock that pleases Thee Oh Sees fans who groan at John Dwyer’s latest psych-evolution (a.k.a. endless sonic noodling). III isn’t lacking in any particular way though, it just doesn’t possess that element of surprise that other artists in the genre are more willing to take. Instead, the triad has turned back their sound to the roots of heavy rock music.

Much of III sounds louder than previous albums, a lot of that comes from the hiring of iconic producer Steve Albini, who is no stranger to cranking shit to 11. He did so as Shellac, and in recent memory, he’s elevated boring bands like Cloud Nothings to the level of accessibility. “Time Collapse” slaps like the best of them, with a sound that fills every corner of the room. “Mirror” takes the speed-metal approach with hyper-riffing and drums that trip over themselves with how fast they are going, all while the united members squawk, “The house you live in/ With your mother.” If anything, III is a victory lap for Segall. He and his band are synchronized and focused, but the album still sounds repeated after over a decade-worth of the same approach.

“Blind to Vines” offers the closest to a stand-out on III. It has an infectious Skynyrd-style riff, but it’s easier to shake than the earworm chorus of “Blinds to vines” repeated by Segall. This is also the most similar to Segall’s previous work as it features a heavier emphasis on lyrics than on instrumentation —save for a few guitar solo diversions thanks to Moothart. Still indebted to Led Zeppelin, Segall wails “You will take away/ Your fear with love/ Give yourself/ The emptiness of blood,” but he always brings it back home with catchy rhythms to finish it all off.

There’s a lot to enjoy about Fuzz’s third album. Its heavy guitar sound will be ear-pleasing to fans of the genre, and Segall die-hards will likely list it somewhere in the middle of his catalog. Not as bad as Sleeper or Emotional Mugger, but definitely nowhere near as great as Slaughterhouse or even Manipulator. III is strictly focused on continuing the Fuzz legacy — loud, fast and empty, and for some, that’s all it needs to be.

An album strictly focused on continuing the Fuzz legacy, and for some, that’s all it needs to be.
73 %
Loud, Fast & Empty
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One Comment

  1. ReJack101

    November 28, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Don’t read this drivel. Go listen. Fuzz III is the best thing to happen in 2020. Maybe even this century.


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