The Best Albums of January 2024

Over and over again, the tunes on Three Bells twist and turn, chasing ideas around corners, zigging when you expect them to zag and vice versa. In “The Bell,” for example, the rhythm shifts on a dime several times as the song evolves from gently woozy to a galloping buzzsaw and Segall introduces the album’s central concept: A journey to the center of the self. What exactly do the three bells represent? No idea, but the journey has begun. “Void” is the longest track on the album, hovering in increasingly chaotic suspended animation for more than three minutes before resolving into an easygoing groove and then a fuzzy final section that provides one of Three Bells’ peaks. “I Hear” sounds like a disco record slowed down by a stack of nickels on the label and “Hi Dee Dee” recalls Beck’s early-career experiments—like if Mellow Gold-era Beck made Midnite Vultures instead of mid-career Beck.

Not until we get to “My Best Friend” do we encounter anything that resembles a three-minute chunk of catchy garage-rock. Which is great! It’s wonderful to have Ty Segall back in a mode where he’s throwing stuff at a wall, seeing what sticks and then melting that wall down into a funky molten goo. Indeed, we are all better off when Ty Segall is holed up somewhere with a handful of instruments, a head full of ideas and a way to document how they interact. What Three Bells gives us is more than an hour of his musical stream of consciousness roaming wild and free—the results are unpredictable, imperfect and utterly fascinating