Fans of indie rock have long lent their ears to the lo-fi garage-rock inspired sounds of Ty Segall since the early 2000s. Segall has long released solo albums as well as numerous others with the Epsilons, Fuzz and GØGGS during his infamously active career.
Under the moniker The C.I.A., Segall plays lead guitar and is accompanied by his wife Denée Segall on vocals, R.E. Carlos on live drums and Emmett Kelly of the Cairo Gang to release their first self-titled album together. Marking Ty’s 6th album release just this year, The C.I.A. came just in time for Christmas for Segall fans by In the Red Records.
As expected, the sound produced by The C.I.A. is in good company with Segall’s usual lo-fi garage sound, but this time Denée takes center stage. Reminiscent of ‘90s grunge bands such as the Stone Temple Pilots or similarly girl fronted bands like Hole, the band makes use of extremely fast-paced, distorted electric guitar and whirring sounds produced by a vintage drum machine for an added dated effect.
The album opens with a slow and steady metronome beat in “Fear,” later giving way to extremely low-fi instrumentals underlying more aggressive vocals. Denée sings of “fire, heat, feat and defeat” and fear that becomes the killer “when you’re playin’ the part.” This theme of staying true to oneself and paving your own way is also reflected in “Reputation,” in which she sings of a girl who is envied for living truly and unapologetically.
“Pleasure Seeker” slows it down a bit with a gentler guitar riff but still allows room for dynamic vocals. Keeping along the same lines of female empowerment, Denée sings of a woman who is a true seeker of sensual adventure when she demands her partner “tie me up with strips of leather, release the tension that’s built inside.” The album then finds its climax in “Gutted” and “Sedition,” which both utilize extremely fast-paced ‘90s rave beats and aggressively elusive guitar riffs which drive the quickly blurted out indecipherable lyrics. Each entails a desire to let loose and dance that is almost uncontainable.
“Power,” “Oblivion” and “Harm Joy” all speak of the true nature of human beings which allow hierarchical power structures to self-replicate in our society. In “Harm Joy,” she describes a public execution where every individual has a “sweet sensation for violence,” looking around for a similar reaction and yelling out to “KILL HIM!” She concludes by stating that “violence has turned us into monsters,” and asking, “Why do we decide to hate each other when none of us are better than the other?”
The anti-establishment sentiment continues in “S.O.S.,” as she describes the perpetual brainwashing of our youth by religious institutions in an ominous melody which parodies the Mockingbird lullaby that we all know and love. She asks, “who needs to feel loved when you’ve got belief?” and asserts that “their following blind will lead them to grief!”
Following these mysterious warnings, “Gunslinger” concludes the album with badass female-heroin vibes, invoking visions of Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill when Segall chants that she “won’t hear you and won’t love you,” because she “don’t need to and don’t have to!”
All in all, fans of Segall’s previous work should generally be into his latest project as it continues his legacy as a garage-rock genius while also including a female heroine who “won’t please you!” As the band’s first album together, it brings great promise of future calls for a woman driven social revolution and fans should wait in anticipation for such works.