Ty Segall’s Manipulator is one of the year’s grandest rock n’ roll records. Massive in scope and sprawling in length, it avoided becoming an exercise in excess thanks to how absurdly grounded most of the songs on Manipulator wound up being. Easily the most readily accessible and wide-reaching record of Segall’s ridiculously prolific career, it felt like a well-deserved bow; the underground’s wunderkind earning a huge moment after years of tireless work and dedication. Impressively, it happened without Segall compromising his identity, his ideologies, or his defining characteristics. “The Singer” was one of more than a dozen standout cuts on Manipulator and the first to boast an incredible one-shot video as an accompaniment.
Segall isn’t new to one-shot clips, either- the video for the title cut off of Goodbye Bread remains a world-stopping piece of art. It’s fitting then, that he would abandon that visual hallmark up until Manipulator, a record that feels more like Goodbye Bread‘s natural successor than any of the ensuing entries in his discography. Not too surprisingly, Matt Yoka directed both clips and infused them with an eye that’s keenly tuned in to a very specific style of art that’s perfectly suited to Segall’s own creative vision (the mundane meets the gloss, neither wins). While “Goodbye Bread” undoubtedly offered more visual stimuli, the details of “The Singer” are worth stopping to appreciate. For one, nearly all of the colors in the static frame are muted- with two small instances of white acting as a double-frame for Segall. Even the members of his band are rendered as ghostly projections, giving some weight to the fact that Manipulator seems to be Segall’s true star-making moment.
It’s that self-awareness that likely caused Yoka to cast Segall in vibrant colors- it’s also Segall’s commitment to a scuzzy, almost feral, take on punk that likely led Yoka to cheekily place him just slightly off of center. If the color palette and framing devices alone didn’t make this a remarkably entertaining viewing experience, then Segall’s various (almost puppeteered) animations push it way over the top. “The Singer” already had catharsis in spades, with its sweeping string section providing a surprisingly strong undercurrent of raw emotion- but even that winds up being sharply accentuated with the video’s climactic ascension. All told, it’s a deceptively well-crafted piece of minimalism that’s deeply felt and carries an easy resonance; a great song turned classic by the perfect video. It’s Ty Segall’s world for the taking and if this is the kind of thing he’s going to gift it with, we should all consider ourselves lucky.
Watch “The Singer” below” and pick up Manipulator from Drag City here.