Fuzz releases distinctive sophomore album

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Fuzz’s II might sound typical to casual listeners, but dedicated fans will be able to differentiate between this album and other Ty Segall releases in a heartbeat.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Denee Petracek

Critics often hail Ty Segall’s extensive solo work as revolutionary, but his other efforts are overlooked far too frequently. Fuzz, one of his many side projects, suffered from his plague, but with their second LP, II — released Friday — the band attempts to break into the limelight with their own distinctive sound.

Formed in 2011, Fuzz distinguishes itself from other Segall ventures with an easy change — instead of playing his Fender Mustang, Segall sits behind a drum kit. This means Charles Moothart, the front man of Moonhearts, gets to play guitar. The group released their first LP, Fuzz, in late 2013, sticking to a reliable and traditional hard rock sound. It was a decent project, but the album lacked any distinguishable qualities to make it a memorable endeavor. Their second record, II, attempts to distinguish itself by incorporating more psychedelic influences and addictive riffs, culminating in a loud and chaotic experience.

II is about half an hour longer than its predecessor. Combined with occasionally repetitive song compositions, this makes some songs feel stale. Even rock purists will admit that over an hour of relentless riffs and crooning vocals can feel a bit redundant, but II tries to overcome its limitations with experimentation.

Listening closely to Segall and Moothart’s lyrics, it’s clear that each song heavily contributes to a story of a bleak and empty society. During the album’s 11th track, “New Flesh,” Segall sings, “Feel no sadness, In this world where living is lifeless,” expressing the outlook of this fantasy world.

Whenever Segall and company aren’t projecting this image of a dark society, their instruments take over and roll swiftly though each song. II’s first track, “Time Collapse Pt. II / The 7th Terror,” contains bassist Chad Ubovich’s best riff on the entire album and ends with a barbaric guitar solo. In the occasional moments Fuzz uses a slower tempo, it often culminates into a booming sound by the end of the track. “Burning Wreath” begins with a calm, twangy guitar riff but snowballs into a hypnotic and thrashing song.

Black Sabbath and Deep Purple are obvious influences on this album, but, while Segall tends to rely on what he knows, he puts a slight spin on each song that helps keep listeners interested. “Pipe” sounds as though it could have been a lost Ozzy Osbourne demo, but Segall keeps things interesting by mixing up production techniques to ensure he doesn’t directly imitate his idols.

Occasionally, Segall’s production choices and song writing leave something to be desired. The album’s lead single, “Pollinate,” sticks to a slightly slower pace than average, leaving the entire track without an element of excitement to make it outstanding. Even when a quick pace is established, such as the beat during “Jack the Maggot,” the lyrics can lack the poetic grace needed to sustain the album’s overall mood, leaving the song’s meaning arbitrary and difficult to understand.

One listen to II could lead to mixed feelings about the band’s slight deviation in artistic direction, but after another play-through, it’s obvious that Fuzz hit their mark. The hefty majority of songs find the right guitar riffs and effects to create a linear but exciting rock record.

Album: II

Genre: Garage/Punk Rock

Tracks: 14

Rating: 7/10